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How the loss of Roe directly serves white supremacists' horrifying plot

Some white supremacist groups see rape of white women as an “extremely effective” way to increase white births. After the death of Roe, the ideology is all the more horrifying.
Photo illustration: Two red circles showing women walking in the distance.
With Roe dead, the layers of danger in a white supremacist plot to forcibly increase white birth rates are hard to overestimate. MSNBC / Getty Images

Reports late last month of the arrest of a former Marine with ties to a neo-Nazi group highlight the dangerous and somewhat convoluted relationship between white extremists and the state of reproductive rights in the United States. The man, identified as a leader of the neo-Nazi group Rapekrieg, was reportedly spearheading a mass murder of minorities and mass rape of “white women to increase production of white children,” according to Rolling Stone.

Abortion is seen by white extremists as part of the so-called “white genocide” plot, and in that sense, reproductive rights are a part of their “white extinction anxiety.”

The horrific revelations are a reminder that white supremacy, male supremacy and violent extremism go hand in hand. Minorities and white women are targets of an ideology that both seeks to reduce nonwhite populations and to increase white ones. For this and other white supremacist extremist groups, the mass murder of minorities and the mass rape of white women are twin goals oriented toward maintaining a white majority nation.

These groups fear possible declining white birthrates and think demographic change is part of an orchestrated plot to end the white race. It’s a claim that’s been around for decades, in the form of an antisemitic conspiracy theory called “white genocide” and an Islamophobic conspiracy theory called "Eurabia.” And these conspiracies have gotten new life as the global “great replacement” conspiracy has grown and been mainstreamed.

This creates considerable contradictions when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is seen by white extremists as part of the so-called white genocide plot, and in that sense, reproductive rights are a part of their “white extinction anxiety.” The loss of Roe v. Wade, in this scenario, directly serves white supremacist extremist goals — as long as it is white babies who cannot be aborted. As NPR has reported, “prominent white supremacists have at times called for abortion to be banned only for white women but for it to be accessible and even free for women of color.”

The same contradictions hold true for rape. While the rape of white women by nonwhite men is used to generate outrage and a “rallying call to unite and fight back,” rape is seen by some on the far right spectrum as acceptable, even desirable — if it produces white babies. Voluntary reproduction matters too. In far-right forums online, users have discussed the “pro-white” approach of having large families of white children, thus promoting their goals and ideology “through procreative means.”

White women aren’t only victims of this worldview; women play an active role across the far-right spectrum, including some actively promoting women’s roles in restoring white birth rates. In 2017, one white supremacist extremist mother issued a “white baby challenge” on social media, urging other white women to have at least as many white babies (six) as she had birthed. The challenge came on the heels of a tweet from then-Iowa Rep. Steve King in which he warned: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

This is where the state of reproductive rights in the U.S. post-Roe becomes especially chilling. Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion reversing Roe v. Wade referred to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describing an insufficient “domestic supply of infants” to meet the demand for infant adoption in the U.S. He also cited Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s December reflection during oral arguments that forced pregnancy is not a “meaningful hardship” because unwanted babies can be surrendered through “safe haven” laws. These kinds of justifications for dismantling reproductive rights reduce women to vessels charged with producing babies for the good of the collective.

In a post-Roe world, a plot to force women to become pregnant, however fringe it might be, takes on a whole new meaning.

It’s not a stretch to see how this frame benefits white supremacist extremists, their obsession with demographic change and their desire to increase white birth rates. It also explains why some white supremacists call to allow free and unrestricted access to abortion for nonwhite women, while banning it for white women. These arguments have been around for nearly two centuries. As early as the mid-1900s, physicians argued against abortion rights because of low white birth rates and the fear that “undesirable” groups were gaining traction. The solution, as Alex Samuels and Monica Potts recently argued in Five Thirty Eight, was to “force middle- and upper-class white women — who had the most access to detect and terminate unwanted pregnancies — to bear more white children.”

Nearly 200 years later, these are the same arguments that bolster white supremacist extremists’ anti-abortion rhetoric. And it is this landscape in which the group Rapekrieg, which has overlapping membership with other neo-Nazi extremist and terrorist groups, like Rapewaffen and Atomwaffen, operates. In this white supremacist extremist worldview, the mass rape of white women is seen as desirable because it can lead to more white babies.

The former Marine arrested last month had allegedly written a group plan to conduct both mass killing of minorities and mass rape of white women in order to create a white ethno-state, describing rape as “an extremely effective tool against our many foes.” He allegedly planned an attack on a synagogue, got a New York City police officer to purchase his weapons and used his military training to train other neo-Nazi group members. The layers of danger here are hard to overestimate.

Groups like Rapekrieg are fringe extremists whose violent plots clearly constitute terrorist action. But in a post-Roe world, a plot to force women to become pregnant, however fringe it might be, takes on a whole new meaning. Amid near-constant revelations of white supremacist extremist and other far right plots in this country over the past few years (and worse, successfully executed attacks and mass shootings), we have seen far too little U.S. government energy dedicated to combatting the threat of white supremacist extremism. How many more Rapekrieg-type plots will it take for this to change?