Since the issue of abortion has been in the news lately, and Trump has recently nominated a new Supreme Court Justice who is avowedly conservative and follows the originalist approach to Constitutional interpretation espoused by the late Antonin Scalia, I will make my point on this issue.
Originalists believe that the text of the U.S. Constitution must be interpreted as its drafters must have understood it at the time it was written in 1787. So-called right to life activists claim that the right to life mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution grant the protections of personhood to fertilized eggs inside a woman’s womb.
The problem is, the scientific discovery of fertilization of the egg by the sperm was not made until 1879 by Hermann Fol, in Geneva, Switzerland. Without the internet that we all rely on today, it probably took a few years longer for this discovery to reach the general population in the United States.
Long before the scientific discovery of human fertilization (conception) in 1879, the general population had an understanding that sexual activity lead to pregnancy and birth after a period of months. Furthermore, due to the occasional miscarriage, the general population had an understanding that a baby developed over time and grew inside the mother’s womb before being delivered. These general understandings predated the drafting of the Constitution by a long shot.
It was not until 1976 that the early pregnancy test (“EPT”) for home use was invented, which could diagnose pregnancy rapidly without the involvement of a medical doctor. So it was about 200 years after the drafting of the Constitution that women had the ability to determine in some scientific way that they were pregnant. For thousands of years beforehand, women had to rely on physical indications such as morning sickness and missed periods to determine if they were pregnant, and they were not always accurate.
Today, the same Republicans who deny that climate change exists and claim that science is biased against their beliefs are demanding that women use scientific testing invented in 1976 to determine if a fertilization process that was first discovered by scientists in 1879 has occurred and thus the tiny cell inside their uterus is a human being and as such deserving of legal protections put into writing in 1787. So they are heavily reliant on science to determine if “life” exists. Yet when any environmental issue is brought up as a concern for human health, they question the science and act like science is a liberal conspiracy in favor of a certain policy agenda.