America's founders' views on life in the womb

My wife, Gena, and I are fully aware how sensitive the abortion issue is. We really do. We’ve known many people who have struggled through every aspect of this life-changing decision, and we’ve been there for them unconditionally. We respect all peoples’ views and beliefs, but we also ask people to respect ours, especially if it differs from theirs.

We have long been advocates for the unborn, and we will continue to be just as the majority of America’s Founding Fathers were. Let me explain, because right now there are grave distortions and misunderstandings about our founders’ views and the U.S. Constitution they created.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the historic U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision was made, when the highest court in the land ruled that individual state laws banning abortion were unconstitutional.

Nearly 50 years later, this past week, Politico published a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft document written by Justice Samuel Alito that appeared to strike down the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade, essentially returning the decisions for abortion to each individual state.

Fox News reported, “In a Tuesday statement, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion. ‘… it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case,’ the court also noted.

“The document posted by Politico was written by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s six-justice conservative majority, and distributed to other members of the court in February. Opinions typically go through multiple drafts before their publication and elements large and small can change, as can votes.

“Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his own response saying, ‘To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.'”

Again, it must be emphasized, if the leaked draft opinion ultimately represents the Supreme Court’s final decision, the justices are not abolishing abortion but merely turning the issue back to each individual state to decide. That’s clearly what the 10th Amendment demands since the U.S. Constitution doesn’t specifically address the issue of abortion. As Justice Alito wrote in his draft, “For the first 185 years after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, each State was permitted to address this issue in accordance with the views of its citizens.”

Such an alleged decision by the highest court of the land (even though not final now) sent shock waves this past week across Democratic and progressive circles, which of course all want the federal mandate to stay intact rather than being turned back to the states.

With all these leaders and partisan politics vacillating back and forth on abortion, I felt it necessary to respectfully remind and reeducate my readers how America’s Founding Fathers really viewed life in the womb, since they were the ones who framed the U.S. Constitution and are at the heart of the present Supreme Court case.

This last Friday, Drudge posted an article from Slate by Molly Farrell, an associate professor of English at the Ohio State University, titled, “Ben Franklin Put an Abortion Recipe in His Math Textbook,” with the subtitle: “To colonial Americans, termination was as normal as the ABCs and 123s.” But was that the case? Was “termination” of babies “as normal as the ABCs and 123s” in the Revolutionary era?

In his book, “Abortion: What the Founding Fathers Thought of It,” Dr. Duane L. Ostler, a veteran lawyer and prolific author who received his Ph.D. in legal history, explained, “[Benjamin] Franklin wrote two short rebuttals [of abortion] under the fictitious names of Celia Shortface and Martha Careful who were incensed at [another Philadelphia printer Samuel] Keimer’s having discussed abortion openly as if it were a commonly accepted practice approved by the majority. These writings directly contradict the Roe court’s assertion that abortion was commonly acceptable in that day.”

Dr. Ostler goes on to explain: “In the Shortface piece, Franklin had his character express outrage that ‘thou would have printed such things in it, as would make all the modest and virtuous women in Pennsylvania ashamed.’ With typical Franklin humor, the fictitious Martha Careful in her letter threatened that she, ‘with some others, are resolved to run the hazard of taking him [Keimer] by the beard, at the next place we meet him, and make an example of him for his immodesty.’ Again, the writings clearly show that abortion was definitely not socially acceptable or approved behavior.”

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Ostler went on to explain, “On other occasions, the founders used the term ‘abortion’ in a negative sense to describe self-destructive actions. For example, James Madison used the term in referring to the unwise combining of the question of where to locate the national capital with other issues, which could end in ‘an abortion of both.’ Alexander Hamilton used the term to describe the unsuccessful British attempt to tax tea imported to the American colonies, which resulted in the Boston Tea Party. And George Washington used the term to describe what would happen if each of the states were to attempt to regulate commerce on their own.”

Benjamin Rush, a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, educator, founder of Dickinson College, attendee of the Continental Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence said that life’s “first motion is produced by the stimulus of the male seed upon the female ovum. … No sooner is the female ovum thus set in motion, and the fetus formed, than its capacity of life is supported.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote about some Native American women who practiced abortions, referring to them as “uncivilized savages” who would cause abortions in order to continue accompanying their husbands on war or hunting expeditions. He then noted that “[t]he same Indian women, when married to white traders, who feed them and their children plentifully and regularly, who exempt them from excessive drudgery, who keep them stationary and unexposed to accident, produce and raise as many children as the white women.”

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton both made comments about the ‘concealment laws’ in their states that demonstrated how they approved of a murder charge for a woman who intentionally aborted her child. The “concealment laws” were adopted by most states, and prohibited infanticide and even abortion, especially “post-quickening.”

John Adams, our second president, lauded the anti-abortion stance of the ancient Greek Lycurgus. He also spoke against the heinous brutality of British soldiers who, in 1761, showed zero regard for the value of innocent life in the womb as “six soldiers ripped open with a knife a woman big with child. … the English gave a free course to their cruelty, and indulged themselves in all sorts of excesses, which the laws of war reprobate as well as those of nature.”

Therefore, it is no surprise that John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) for over two decades who taught an American president (James Madison) and a vice president (Aaron Burr), as well as 39 congressmen, 21 senators, 12 governors, nine Cabinet members and three Supreme Court justices, concluded: “Some nations have given parents the power of life and death over their children. But here in America, we have denied the power of life and death to parents.” summarized some other key figures and pro-life sentiment from early Americans that warrant me to quote it at length:

“James Wilson was one of only six men to sign both the Declaration and the Constitution, and was a Supreme Court justice from 1789 to 1798. Recognized as ‘the most learned and profound legal scholar of his generation,’ Wilson’s lectures were attended by President George Washington, Vice President John Adams, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and a ‘galaxy of other republican worthies.’ For this reason, as constitutional scholar Walter Berns stated, ‘Wilson, when speaking on the law, might be said to be speaking for the founders generally.’

“James Wilson’s ‘Lectures on Law,’ given at what eventually was to become the University of Pennsylvania, clearly affirm that the right to life encompasses the unborn. He said, ‘With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and in some cases, from every degree of danger.’

“Wilson, in agreement with the limited medical jurisprudence of his time, assumed that life begins with the ‘quickening’ of the infant in his mother’s womb. As taught by Aristotle, the quickening was the point at which the fetus was infused with a human, rational soul. John Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, first printed in 1839, defines the quickening as follows: ‘The motion of the fetus, when felt by the mother, is called quickening, and the mother is then said to be quick with child. This happens at different periods of pregnancy in different women, and in different circumstances, but most usually about the 15th or 16th week after conception. …’

“One of the sources of both Wilson’s and Bouvier’s opinion is William Blackstone’s widely read Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769). Blackstone’s discussion of the quickening observes: ‘Life is the immediate gift of God, a right inherent by nature in every individual; and it begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb. For if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise, killeth it in her womb … this, though not murder, was by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter. But at present it is not looked upon in quite so atrocious a light, though it remains a very heinous misdemeanor. …'”

Blackstone’s commentary conveys striking reminiscence of – and gives foundation for – the opening words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

It is the primary purpose of government to protect every human’s rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is still true from the womb to the tomb. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1809, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

With all the preceding in mind, it’s no surprise that the present U.S. Supreme Court majority are following the founders’ precedent in maintaining constitutional integrity toward human life in the womb or outside the womb.

For more on how America’s founders regarded human life, I recommend reading chapter 6, “Reclaim the Value of Human Life,” in my New York Times bestseller, “Black Belt Patriotism.” For scientific proof that life in the womb is indeed human life, read my recent column: “Restoring all human life, from conception to the grave.” Also, check out the myriad resources on the Founding Fathers at

For those who are thinking of having an abortion or if you want to help someone who is thinking about it, please read this free e-copy of Randy Alcorn’s very insightful little book, “Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and their Mothers.” You will also find help in Dr. James Dobson’s online article, “How to Help a Friend Who Wants an Abortion.” Further personal help and counseling can also be found HERE.

For more on how modern interpreters are twisting the views of America’s founders and our U.S. Constitution, please watch the Epoch Times special program titled, “America Rewritten.” It is a must-see!

As their website explains, “In ‘America Rewritten,’ an exclusive special feature from The Epoch Times, Joshua Philipp, award-winning senior investigative reporter and host of The Epoch Times’ program ‘Crossroads,’ speaks with leading experts on how history is being falsified, how our system of government is being misrepresented, and what the world would lose if the U.S. Constitution were lost.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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