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In a footnote to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Samuel Alito referenced an old right-wing talking point tying abortion advocacy to eugenics. He suggested that some pro-choice advocates were “motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population,” and in dong so echoed Clarence Thomas’s 2019 concurrence in Box v. Planned Parenthood, which stated that abortion restrictions prevent “abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.”

In the wake of the Dobbs ruling, many advocates denied the historical ties between abortion and eugenics. Yet the inconvenient fact remains that early 20th-century abortion rights were frequently articulated in relation to eugenic standards of “unfitness” and “racial betterment” in ways that remain relevant today. Although we may most frequently encounter this history through bad-faith arguments aimed at stripping away reproductive rights, feminists have a responsibility to grapple seriously with the ties between disability, abortion, and eugenics.

Pro-choice advocates have argued that the early abortion movement was directly opposed to eugenic practices (such as forced breeding or sterilization) because its focus was...