Were the Framers Really Pro-Choice? Not Likely

The Washington Post has been criticized for running a column by Aaron Tang, professor of law at the University of California at Davis, claiming an originalist basis for the right to abortion.  The column makes highly dubious claims over the legality of early stage abortions and the likely understanding of the Framers of such a right. The suggestion is that, at least as to early abortions, the Framers and early legal commentators may have been technically pro-choice. I recently wrote a column on how abortions were treated as crimes at the time of the drafting of the Constitution.  The assertions made by Professor Tang have been refuted by scholars like John Finnis, professor emeritus of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford University, and Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University. The Supreme Court will hear one of the most important abortion cases in decades this week in in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Pro-choice originalism is about as incongruous as “advocacy journalism” but both seem evident in the effort to push this ill-conceived theory.

Professor Tang asserts “If the conservative justices wish to be faithful to the Constitution’s original meaning, they should not eliminate the right to abortion. Instead, they should restore it to the position that characterized American society throughout our early history, recognizing a constitutional right to abortion early in pregnancy.”

As previously discussed, early discussions of abortion refer to “the quickening” when a woman first feels the movement of a fetus in the womb. Yet, Tang makes the astonishing claim that Sir William Blackstone and the Framers understood that abortion was legal before the quickening. The claim is the outgrowth of his academic work, which notably was revised due to historical errors raised by Finnis and George previously.

The scholars objected that the Washington Post published many historical errors to suggest an originalist basis for abortion. They objected to 50 historical errors identified in the academic work and asserted that “Tang contested none of those errors, but accepted many of our charges silently, ignored many, confessed to a couple and replaced some with new ones awaiting yet another refutation. The Post op-ed relies on the errors that remain.”

One of the most striking claims made in the Washington Post column was the following:

“The importance of a state-law consensus is why antiabortion advocates have long rested their argument on the similar claim that when the 14th Amendment was ratified, 27 of the 37 states banned abortion throughout pregnancy. The state of Mississippi makes this claim in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the pending case, and no fewer than five amicus briefs repeat it.

This claim is wrong, grounded on a series of historical errors. The foundational mistake is the failure to grapple with the long-standing rule that abortion was legal so long as it was performed before quickening, the first noticeable fetal movement that often occurs at 15 or 16 weeks.”

Finnis and George slammed the statement as demonstrably untrue:

“States began to prohibit pre-quickening abortion in the 1820s, and accelerated through the 1840s and 1850s. By 1858 a majority of states had statutes criminalizing abortion at all stages. By the end of 1868, the year the 14th Amendment was ratified, a good three-quarters of the states had them. (By 1883, all but two or three, and eventually all, adopted such laws.) Tang’s claim that at ratification 21 of 37 states ‘recognized the lawfulness of pre-quickening abortion’ is simply false.”

The criticism is well-founded. I have discussed the quickening as a line drawn in earlier works, including Blackstone’s writings. However, Blackstone never said that pre-quickening abortions were legal. Here is the oft-cited key quote: “if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise, killeth it in her womb…whereby… she is delivered of a dead child, this…was…homicide or manslaughter. But at present it is…[only] a very heinous misdemeanour.”

That quote does not say that early abortions were treated as legal. To the contrary, Blackstone often does not refer to the quickening in describing all abortions as unlawful. He stated, for example, that “if one gives a woman with child a medicine to procure abortion, and it operates so violently as to kill the woman, this is murder in the person who gave it.” The quickening may have helped establish the knowledge and culpability of a pregnant woman in early cases. It did not mean that abortion was embraced as legal before the quickening. It certainly did not mean that such a distinction was adopted at the time of the ratification of the 14th Amendment.

Notably, the emphasis on the quickening would work against the challenge to the Mississippi law. That law sets the prohibition on abortions around the time of the quickening at around 15 or 16 weeks. That could be a compromise that many have suggested in upholding the law while also preserving Roe v. Wade.

I have no problem with newspapers publishing novel arguments that challenge common interpretations. Yet, this column states facts that seem demonstrably false. I credit Professor Tang for acknowledging some of his earlier errors in his academic work but the column does seem to replicate other errors.

The Washington Post has been previously criticized for publishing dubious claims that fulfill constitutional and political narratives. Indeed, it has published (and did not correct) erroneous statements on actual court holdings. There are simply some facts “too good to check” like Framers supported abortion rights. It is the type of opinion piece that is guaranteed a placement in a major newspaper, but creates widespread misunderstanding of the historical and legal context for important decisions.

The weird thing is that most advocates are not making originalist arguments. They are offering an alternative interpretive view of the Constitution as evolving in its meaning on issues like privacy. There is a reason why such originalist arguments have not been embraced for the last 50 years. They are based on a strikingly flawed and highly revisionist account.

Dobbs has rekindled our long and deep divisions over abortion rights. Underlying that debate are good-faith arguments on both sides of how to interpret the Constitution. Whatever may come from this decision, we need to build precedent on a historically and legally accurate foundation. While the Washington Post has decried “misinformation” and “disinformation,” it sometimes seems rather selective in how those terms are applied.

209 thoughts on “Were the Framers Really Pro-Choice? Not Likely”

  1. Even an amoeba is aware of what is in its surroundings, and it wants to avoid negative stimuli.
    Why wouldn’t it want that?

  2. I brought an original oil painting to the Framers and they did good of framing it, I must say. Kudos!

  3. I listen carefully to proof ATS, but your BS is not acceptable. The funny thing is that for a very few of the things you write, though I may disagree, I think you have some points. However, those points become worthless when surrounded by the junk you surround most of your posts with.

    “he learned it from Fox ”

    If I learned it from anyone, I learned it from CNN and the rest of the MSM based on videos exposing those mental midgets.

  4. Let the people in each state decide abortion law. That would make the law more flexible, and responsive.

    One criticism I can think of for states having total say, is that it might be possible for there to be wild fluctuations in the law, making providers unstable. However, polls show there actually is quite a bit of consensus, such as bans on aborting healthy fetuses that are far along. People are far more likely to allow mothers and doctors to decide a course of action for serious fetal abnormalities, than for healthy fetuses. That’s a euthanasia argument, and it does have a place in the debate. I do think that if a pregnancy is life threatening to the mother, at any stage of gestation, then she should have the right to early removal of the pregnancy. I just don’t agree with taking the extra step of killing the infant if he or she is viable. An ectopic pregnancy is doomed. Preeclampsia is an emergency.

    I think the people of each state are smart enough to vote for responsible legislation, hopefully with a heart for both mother and child.

    No matter what is decided, I find abortion very sad. That’s a baby in there. A human. I personally consider someone a person, even when we rewind the clock back to his or her very beginning. If one could wind back time, all the way to that zygote, it would still be you. In the case of spontaneous abortion, that was still a flare of life, a person who never was.

    Whatever the best legislation turns out to be, I hope our society places value on unborn life. Right now, there’s an out of sight, out of mind mentality.

    1. “Let the people in each state decide” how you use your property, whether you can speak freely or own a gun, which customers you are compelled to serve, whether to mandate vaccines . . .

  5. One of the most liberal SCOTUS Justices in history, Hugo Black, an FDR apologist and a textualist, authored the majority opinion of Korematsu vs United States, re: Japanese interment camps. A travesty of an opinion.

    Hubris

    Roe v. Wade (1973) and its abortive offspring, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, are on par with Plessy v. Ferguson and Korematsu vs United States. On a whim, SCOTUS overturned 50 state laws.

    Hubris.

    Medical science has evolved to show empirically that the moment a sperm fertilizes and egg, life begins as I noted nearby. Overturn Roe and Casey. Let medical science inform state legislatures on how to legislate.

    But if the Court’s model statute is generally intelligent, what is the justification for its imposition? If this statute, why not one on proper grounds of divorce, or on adoption of children? Medical evidence, the Court tells us now, shows that abortions during the first three months of pregnancy present no great risk. Well and good.

    It is also clear that the fetus is not a life in being at the early stages of pregnancy, is not entitled to constitutional protection, and the Constitution cannot be construed to forbid abortion. Well and good again. But the fetus is a potential life, and the Court acknowledges that society has a legitimate interest in it. So has the individual—the mother, and one would suppose also the father; an interest that may be characterized as a claim to personal privacy, which in some contexts the Constitution has been found to protect. The individual’s interest, here, overrides society’s interest in the first three months and, subject only to health regulations, also in the second; in the third trimester, society is preeminent.

    One is left to ask why. The Court never said. It refused the discipline to which its function is properly subject. It simply asserted the result it reached. This is all the Court could do because moral philosophy, logic, reason, or other materials of law can give no answer. If medical considerations only were involved, a satisfactory rational answer might be arrived at. But, as the Court acknowledged, they are not. Should not the question then have been left to the political process, which in state after state can achieve not one but many accommodations, adjusting them from time to time as attitudes change? It is astonishing that only two dissented from the Court’s decision, although Justice Potter Stewart noted in his agreement, presumably with some discomfort, that the decision joined the long line of earlier cases imposing judicially made social policy to which Holmes had objected. The dissenters were Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist. The Court’s decision was an “extravagant exercise” of judicial power, said Justice White; it was a legislative rather than judicial action, suggested Justice Rehnquist. So it was, and if the Court’s guess on the probable and desirable direction of progress is wrong, that guess will nevertheless have been imposed on all fifty states.

    Alexander M. Bickel, “Morality of Consent”, Yale University Press, 1975, pp. 39-40

    1. “Medical science has evolved to show empirically that the moment a sperm fertilizes and egg, life begins . . .”

      So?

      Scientific advances are not an excuse for abrogating rights. That it is illegal to remove that which is “alive” from one’s body, leads to the absurdity that it is illegal to remove a tumor.

        1. “A FORCE TOO STRONG FOR ME TO OVERCOME”

          – SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE ROGER TANEY *
          __________________________________________

          America is a society of laws; “Crazy Abe” Lincoln illicitly abrogated the Constitution and imposed his personal law.

          Everything “Crazy Abe” Lincoln did was unconstitutional.

          “Crazy Abe” Lincoln was a legal and constitutional aberration and abomination.

          “Crazy Abe” Lincoln must have been immediately impeached and convicted upon his unconstitutional denial of constitutional secession to States, and his commencement of an unconstitutional war of aggression against a sovereign foreign nation.

          The “Reconstruction Amendments” were improperly ratified with a gun to America’s head and under the duress of brutal post-war military occupation; they were illegitimate in 1870 and remain illegitimate to this day.

          “Crazy Abe” Lincoln believed in and was obligated as president to deport and compassionately repatriate freed slaves ** whose status had transformed from “property” to “illegal alien,” and who had become unassimilable illegal-aliens-en masse upon the issuance of the unconstitutional Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
          __________________________________________________________________________________________________

          *

          “Lincoln and Taney’s great writ showdown” (excerpted)

          “The clause in the Constitution which authorizes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is in the ninth section of the first article. This article is devoted to the Legislative Department of the United States, and has not the slightest reference to the Executive Department,” Taney argued. “I can see no ground whatever for supposing that the President in any emergency or in any state of things can authorize the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or arrest a citizen except in aid of the judicial power,” Taney concluded.

          However, Taney noted that he didn’t have the physical power to enforce the writ in this case because of the nature of the conflict at hand. “I have exercised all the power which the Constitution and laws confer on me, but that power has been resisted by a force too strong for me to overcome,” he said. But Taney did order that a copy of his opinion be sent directly to President Lincoln.

          Lincoln didn’t respond directly or immediately to the Ex Parte Merryman decision. Instead, he waited until a July 4th address to confront Taney at a special session of Congress.

          – National Constitution Center
          ________________________

          **

          “If all earthly power were given me I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.”

          “[Should freed blacks be made politically and socially our equals], my own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

          – Abraham Lincoln, Congressional Candidate, Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854

        2. Enslaving people in the first place was a violation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

          Plus it was immoral.

          Glad the West was at the forefront of recognizing equal rights, which would by definition make slavery unlawful. Too bad the African continent and Asia have been so slow to catch up.

      1. Sam, I like you and substantially agree with the way you think, but here you have gone off the rails and placed your argument where it shouldn’t be.

        I have my own views but understand yours with significant agreement. You have fallen into the trap of potentially being accused of considering a fetus nothing more than a malignant tumor or disease that the body needs to be rid of.

        That is not you.

        1. “. . . nothing more than a malignant tumor . . .”

          That analogy is a reductio ad absurdum of the anti-abortion argument that since a fetus is “life,” it is immoral, and should be illegal, to remove it.

          But it’s nice to have a civilized, respectful antagonist. So thanks for that. (And I mean that sincerely.)

          1. Sam, the analogy is correct, but I’m afraid I disagree with your original analogy, which I think is better excluded from this subject.

            We have two lives we are dealing with, so I believe there is significant justification on both sides even though I consider abortion a killing. I hope that all people will understand how bad it is to take a life.

            Society will always find disagreement on this subject for good reason. I can accept that, but I hope all people will understand how wrong abortion is and that it is not anything like removing a tumor. It is the extinguishing of a life.

            In any event, abortion never should have been considered on the federal level.

            I appreciate the civilized discussion as well. Thank you.

      2. The Constitution does not address abortion.

        The 9th Amendment does not establish abortion as a right.

        The Framers considered rights and freedoms to be natural and God-given.

        Abortion is the fabricated synthetic antithesis of natural and God-given.

        The People or the States have the power to allow or prohibit abortion per the 10th Amendment.

        The People have decided that the people must act collectively as the State to prohibit and interdict homicide.

        States have decided to prohibit homicide.

        A zygote, fetus or baby is a nascent human being.

        A nascent human being is a human being.

        Abortion is homicide
        ________________

        9th Amendment

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
        _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

        10th Amendment

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      3. Sam:

        A tumor is not a separate living organism. It is tissue of an existing living organism.

        A human fetus is a completely separate human, with its own unique genetics. One human being is killing another human being. She is harming someone else’s body, not just having a procedure on her own body. People can do just about whatever they want to themselves; it’s when they seek to harm others that becomes a bioethics problem.

        Most Americans think there should be at least some restrictions on abortion.

        1. “A human fetus is a completely separate human . . .”

          I think you need to check your understanding of the biological status of a fetus.

          1. Sam, I am not going to draw any conclusions or even debate. Instead, I will add to your statement.

            “I think you need to check your understanding of the biological status of a fetus.” and while adding to it, we all recognize the fetus and the embryo describe different stages of human development just like infancy, adolescence and elderly.

            1. “I think you need to check your understanding of the biological status of a fetus.” and while adding to it, we all recognize the fetus and the embryo describe different stages of human development just like infancy, adolescence and elderly.

              What Sam means is taking the fetus to Jiffy Lube, hooking it up to a machine, and having an electronic check up done to determine its status…..because “alive” is such a non-medical construct. Karen has more insight into biology than most people on here. He reminds me of David Benson and his arrogance. His retorts of “so?” are hysterical

              1. “. . . his arrogance.”

                So let me get this straight.

                It’s “arrogance” (supposedly a bad thing) to be confident about one’s conclusion that abortion is a right. And to disagree vehemently with the opposition.

                But it’s not “arrogance” to be confident that abortion is not a right.

                Embrace contradictions, much? Just a fan of selective ad hominems? Apoplectic that some dared to question your religious dogma?

              2. Estovir, Sam is a good guy, though many might not like his position. I can’t say what is in Sam’s mind, but when society starts talking about stages of life, the next thing they do is limit care to specific groups.
                Abortion today and next the elderly or disabled or the not so perfect like the Nazis did to the Jews and others.

                I remember decades ago a very quiet government program that disappeared very quietly. The intention was to create a numbering system assessing the quality of life of those patients where the VN was in assistance. Below a certain number would receive only palliative care. Checklist scores would fall even if they were blind or deaf from birth. The disabled community made a row, and the idea quietly disappeared. Then again, we all remember Zeke Emanual’s life curve.

          2. As a biologist, I can say that a human fetus is a completely separate human. You need to check your understanding of the biological staus uf a fetus.

            1. “As a biologist, I can say that a human fetus is a completely separate human.”

              So that umbilical cord, placenta, et al. are just there for show? Perhaps the fetus self-identifies as “separate.”

    2. A fetus is alive. It can die. It is quite literally alive, meeting all requirements of the definition. I cannot understand how some can understand that bacteria is alive, fungi are alive, and sea turtle embryos are alive, but think a human fetus is not alive. Of course it is alive. It is growing and its cells are replicating. It’s not dead, and it’s certainly not inorganic or inert.

      Since a fetus is biologically alive, one does wonder if that unravels the core reasoning of the original argument, which was based upon a fetus only having potential life.

      This should have been left up to the states.

      1. “A fetus is alive.”

        So? Being “alive” in one’s body is not an argument for the state to control a woman’s body (and life). Lots of things are alive in one’s body, e.g., cells and organs.

        “. . . a fetus only having potential life.”

        Not the argument. A fetus is a potential *individual*, separate entity — apart from and not dependent on a woman’s body. This is an issue of individual *rights,* of the *individual’s* right to life — which the government is supposed to protect. And rights pertain to an *actual* individual, not to a potential one. Rights do not apply to more than an individual, contra collectivism. Nor do they apply to less than an individual, contra anti-abortion.

  6. The Preamble of the Constitution states, “…and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Question: How can we secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity if we abort them?

  7. OT: The left sits too close to the Chinese and the idea of Chinese world domination.
    —–
    Los Angeles sheriff won’t use coronavirus test provider due to alleged ties to China

    “Los Angeles law enforcement is severing ties with its COVID-19 testing firm due to its potential connections to Chinese actors.

    “Villanueva took issue with reports that China was gathering genetic data worldwide, and the FBI told Villanueva that the DNA data acquired by Fulgent is “not guaranteed to be safe and secure from foreign governments” and that the information is likely being shared with China, according to the letter.”

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/los-angeles-sheriff-covid-test-site-china-connections

  8. Turley says:

    “While the Washington Post has decried “misinformation” and “disinformation,” it sometimes seems rather selective in how those terms are applied.”

    Turley works for Fox News which employs Tucker Carlson whose “Patriot Purge” conspiracy theory was so filled with reckless lies that two long-term commentators resigned from Fox. Turley’s reaction?

    Crickets….

    And my dear lying Trumpists, this was not the only dissension within your beloved Fox News:

    “Chris Wallace and Bret Baier ‘WARNED Fox News execs about blowback from Tucker Carlson’s false flag Jan 6 riot doc Patriot Purge – before two contributors quit over it”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10234203/Chris-Wallace-Bret-Baier-warned-Fox-News-execs-Tucker-Carlsons-Patriot-Purge.html

    Now, I know you Trumpists think Wallace should have resigned from Fox long ago, but Baier?
    Et tu Brute?

    He remains in the good graces of lying Trumpists. But he too expressed his reservation to Carlson’s false flag 1/6 conspiracy theory:

    “Bret Baier: “There Were Concerns” About Tucker Carlson Doc That Led to Contributor Resignations

    Baier added that he was “sad” that long-time Fox contributors Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes resigned from the channel in the wake of the ‘Patriot Purge’ series.”

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/bret-baier-patriot-purge-concern-1235052182/

    Baier was biting his tongue when Brian Kilmeade pressed him for his reaction to the news of the 2 resignations:

    “Brian, I don’t want to go down this road. You know, I mean, there were concerns about it definitely… I think that the news division did what we do when we covered the story.”

    Has Turley stood up like a man to go on the record and CONDEMN Carlson’s reckless “advocacy journalism”?

    Not One Word.

    In a word- despicable.

    1. “Turley works for Fox News which employs Tucker Carlson whose “Patriot Purge” conspiracy theory was so filled with reckless lies that two long-term commentators resigned from Fox. Turley’s reaction?”
      **************************

      Okay, let’s pick out all the informal logical fallacies, JS “marshals” against JT. I’ll get us started:
      1. Appeal to Ignorance
      2. Unwarranted generalizations
      3. Guilt by Association

      Now, I count about three more but let’s hear some other people’s takes.

      1. Mespo,

        Unlike your typical Trumpist brethren, neither have you insulted me nor wished that I would get lost. I commend you!

        I welcome a debate on the merits, but you will have to be more specific in your objections.

        Where have I asserted something as true because it has not yet been proven false?

        Which of my statements are unwarranted generalizations?

        I am not suggesting that Turley is guilty by virtue of his association with Fox or Carlson. My complaint is his HYPOCRITICAL silence about Carlson’s disinformation in his “Patriot Purge” propaganda which alarmed no less than 4 Fox employees. Moreover, Turley is selling out his integrity by profiting upon the rage provocateurs at Fox in spite of his steadfast denunciation of “the age of rage” in the media.

        Turley is self-censoring out of the same fear that prompted Baier to demur to Kilmeade that he did not “want to go down this road.”

        If you want to prove me wrong that Turley is NOT an objective and impartial legal commentator, then kindly find some instance of his finding fault with the advocacy journalism at Fox or even Newsmax or OAN.

        1. Mespo,

          The hill.com reported on virus disinformation from Newsmax, but somehow such stories escape Turley’s notice:

          “Newsmax pulls reporter who tweeted vaccine conspiracy theory off air”

          https://thehill.com/homenews/media/580041-newsmax-pulls-reporter-who-tweeted-vaccine-conspiracy-theory-off-air

          We don’t have to wonder why Turley ignores such stories- they don’t serve his narrative to discredit Fox’s mainstream media competitors. That’s what fulfills the financial interests of his employer and his own.

    2. ” that two long-term commentators resigned from Fox. “

      What a fool you are. Goldberg is gone from National Review and not well liked by many conservatives. The two started a new company and left Fox while getting additional publicity. I actually read Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism”. He is a good writer and you would learn a bit reading the book, but I think it is too many levels above your abilities.

      “WARNED Fox News execs”

      How do you know that Bret Baier “WARNED”…?

      You don’t, but you will promote any idea that some anonymous person said and then you use that to condemn Professor Turley (In a word- despicable.)

      I think Tucker has an interesting perspective that is concerning because it involves the President of the United States. However we already know the intelligence services, FBI and DOJ have been compromised and we have Hunter’s laptop. All of that is very concerning. I believe in airing all sides. You don’t. You would like to limit free speech as long as it is not your own. You are nothing more than a run of the mill fascist.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss the problems with JeffSilberman’s comments to him. For someone who uses harsh words against the good professor, it is curious that Jeff is so attracted to the blog site, and spends so much time reviewing the blog and Turley’s commenters, -then engaging in copious verbosity to discredit them. He also expresses a curious hatred for Trump (most persons who dislike Trump simply didn’t vote for him), -labeling anyone who disagrees with him (silberman) a lying “Trumpist.” Methinks there is more going on here than at first specious glance…

        1. Thanks Lin. Your opinion regarding “more going on” strikes me as true with a very unflattering appearance of the JS persona.

  9. “Were the Framers Really Pro-Choice? Not Likely”

    – Professor Turley
    ______________

    “SEVEN TO EIGHT CHILDREN”

    Looks like pregnancy, births and children were very popular, and women did their duty in 1776.
    __________________________________________________________________________

    What was the average family size in 1800?

    According to most census estimates, an American woman had on average seven to eight children in 1800. By 1900 the number dropped to about 3.5. That has fallen to slightly more than two today.

    – historynewsnetwork.org, Feb 15, 2007

  10. After 24 hours, the fertilization process results in a human being, a very young human being to be sure, but a human being nonetheless.

    Without intervention, a zygote will inarguably become a human being, therefore, a zygote is a human being.

    Abortion aborts something; that something is a human being.

    Voluminous extraneous prevarication notwithstanding, abortion is homicide.
    ___________________________________________________________

    Zygote

    A zygote (from Ancient Greek ζυγωτός (zygōtós) ‘joined, yoked’, from ζυγοῦν (zygoun) ‘to join, to yoke’)[1] is a eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between two gametes. The zygote’s genome is a combination of the DNA in each gamete, and contains all of the genetic information necessary to form a new individual organism.

    In multicellular organisms, the zygote is the earliest developmental stage. In humans and most other anisogamous organisms, a zygote is formed when an egg cell is fertilized by a sperm cell. In single-celled organisms, the zygote can divide asexually by mitosis to produce identical offspring.

    German zoologists Oscar and Richard Hertwig made some of the first discoveries on animal zygote formation in the late 19th century.

    – Wiki

  11. The notion of the quickening (around 40 days past conception) as the inception of human life began with Aristotle and was adopted by early Church fathers like Aquinas in their beliefs on ensoulment. SCOTUS mimicked the notion in the trimester set up found in the Roe decision. Now we have “viability” a less poetic version of quickening. Proof again that nothing is really new, original or wiser than many scholars of the past.

    https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/1578628/76085_chapter_2.pdf

  12. For millions of years, there were never any abortions in nature, and life went about living. Then humans arrived on the scene and thought that abortion would
    be a good thing.

  13. The quickening may have helped establish the knowledge and culpability of a pregnant woman in early cases.

    Based on Blackstone’s opinion, it would seem they were using quickening to establish the degree of offense for killing an unborn child rather than at what point an abortion right ends. Given the science of the day, I suspect it would have been an arguable defense to end a pregnancy before the quickening. Had they had the science to know if a woman was pregnant as early as 10 days, the charge of murder would have likely been made on that positive test.

    1. Yes, while there is no mystery in sex and conception, and a woman and man have four choices (other than the wicked solution under the Pro-Choice religion), with scientific and technological advancement, the “quickening” of tell-tale hearts beat sooner and ever louder, thus the move to restrict elective abortion (planned parent/hood) to six weeks. Baby steps.

      1. …the “quickening” of tell-tale hearts beat sooner and ever louder…

        if a tree falls in the forrest but no one is present to observe it, does it make a sound?

        You have demonstrated aptly the problem with the abortionist argument. Proaborts argue that the developing baby is not “life” because they can not see the wondrous biological activities at the physiological, biochemical, molecular biology levels that define life. These very activities take place from conception until death. It is a constant stream of activity that defines whether a person is alive or dead.

        It is hubris to think nothing is taking place in-utero just because people can not see/hear the awesome movement of cells, ions, chemical signals, electrical conduction of currents, and more.

        If a person can not see their cancer, does that mean they do not have cancer? Same principle applies to the developing baby in-utero.

        The universe does not revolve around us. Pride is the greatest sin of them all. Abortion stems from pride.

        1. This is what defines life; it occurs in all of us from conception to death, every day, every hour, every minute.

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