Flawed Interpretation of abortion criminalization by anti-abortion advocates for thirty years

July 6, 2022, Letters from an American, Prof. Heather Cox Richardson

As taken from Letters from an American. A brief introduction as to how SCOTUS arrived at their opinion on Abortion. Accomplished by ignoring a long legal tradition extending from common law to the mid-1800s and even longer in some states. This tradition includes Mississippi tolerating the termination of pregnancy before the occurrence of Quickening. Quickening the being the time when a woman first felt movement. SCOTUS opinion now relies upon misinterpretations and makes it such in authoritative text.

Both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, the flagship organizations of professional historians in the U.S., along with eight other U.S. historical associations (so far), yesterday issued a joint statement expressing dismay. Dismay over the six Supreme Court justices in the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ignoring the actual history those organizations provided the court. Instead, SCOTUS “adopts interpretations of abortion criminalization pressed by anti-abortion advocates for more than thirty years.”

Although the decision mentioned “history” 67 times, they note, it ignored “the long legal tradition, extending from the common law to the mid-1800s (and far longer in some states, including Mississippi), of tolerating termination of pregnancy before occurrence of ‘quickening,’ the time when a woman first felt fetal movement.”

The statement focuses less on politics than on the perversion of history, noting that “[t]hese mis-representations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future,” an undermining of the “imperative that historical evidence and argument be presented according to high standards of historical scholarship. The Court’s majority opinion…does not meet those standards.”