Abortion and the Constitution
By Gary Peterson, PCP
Given that the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh for the next Justice of the Supreme Court are going on, I feel compelled to express my views on abortion.
When our founding fathers wrote the Constitution of the United States (created September 17th, 1787 and ratified June 21st, 1788–including the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments), abortion had been around for millennia. The debate around it being legal or not legal was and had been a philosophical and religious one. The first law criminalizing abortion was in the Malicious Shooting or Stabbing Act of 1893 (over 100 years after the Constitution was ratified), proposed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
Thomas Jefferson wrote about the 1st amendment, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Even using Justice Scalia’s thinking of what was the intent of the founders, it’s clear that they wanted to leave the abortion issue as a philosophical and religious one, especially given the First Amendment.
The First Amendment “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.”
Therefore, I see no clear path to overturning Roe vs. Wade, and if the Supreme Court does, I predict that cases challenging this will be brought to the Supreme Court regularly. The debate around abortion being legal or not legal is clearly a philosophical and religious one and should be left to one’s personal beliefs.
A law criminalizing abortion is a “law respecting an establishment of religion” (from the First Amendment), thus illegal.