Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Abortion and the Corruption of History

More from the new “End Roe” issue of National Review:

Ramesh Ponnuru has a devastating piece on the “false and sometimes fraudulent version of history” that proponents of a constitutional right to abortion have propagated from the 1960s all the way through to the amicus brief filed by the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians in the pending case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

As Ponnuru explains, the “slipshod scholarship” that Justice Harry Blackmun repeatedly cited in his majority opinion in Roe v. Wade “was already in the process of being discredited in 1973 and has since been comprehensively de­bunked.” But the Court has “never revisited its mistaken historical claims, which have instead taken on a life of their own in academic work, popular journalism, and legal briefs.”

Read the whole thing. Here’s Ponnuru’s summation:

The truth is that for centuries Anglo-American law forbade abortion from the first time an unborn child was known to be alive, and that as knowledge of biology accumulated the law was deliberately changed, the better to protect unborn life.  


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