Just a few months ago, Congress’ Democratic women fumed during the State of the Union address as the President boldly called for a ban on all late-term abortions. In a moment of unusual and very un-Trumpian melancholy, the President said, “I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
As the sour faced women in white kept their seats and vented their fury through Twitter, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought if they could see the current state of our legislature.
Would they agree with these women? Would they, too, consider laws that prohibit abortion as oppressive to American liberty?
True, in their personal lives, the Founders were far from saintly, but their written documents convey some exceptionally clear intentions for the moral goodness and justice of the country they were building.
In the Declaration of Independence, it’s clearly stated that the lives of all men are “endowed by their Creator…” Life, then, and all the protections and rights that come with it, was not intended by the Founders to be a legislative gift from the government. To George Washington and companions, life was a gift from the Creator alone, and as such could be defined by the Creator alone. The American government had no right to grant the title of “life-or-not-life.”
To put it another way, “life” was not intended by the Founders to be just another welfare handout, but rather an intrinsic quality of humanity that could not be given or taken away by any social institution. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson himself elaborated on this point in his personal writings, saying, “…That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty [the King of England], with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”
Of course, the argument could be made that the Founders (as the original super-libertarians), wouldn’t wish to place government-limitations on any personal actions of the citizenry. They couldn’t even bear to have their groceries taxed. Wouldn’t government involvement in medical decisions seem completely beyond the pale to them?
In fact, the Founding Fathers only promoted freedom from unjust authority. Alexander Hamilton himself informed us that, “Unjust authority confers no obligation of obedience.” However, this does not by any means imply that the Founders were stingy about setting and enforcing limitations when they obviously came from a place of lawful authority. “But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others,” Thomas Jefferson said.
When the freedom of some oppresses the freedom of others, this is not true liberty, but anarchy. To Jefferson, limits upon man-on-man aggression came from a place of lawful authority, and, as such, could be stringently and confidently limited without any apology from the legislature. According to the Founding Fathers, then, the right to life was paramount above all other human rights, and, as such, should be lawfully protected by government regulation (even if that regulation appeared to place limitations upon others).
Given this understanding, how would the Founding Fathers address the recent contentions between the social rights of a mother and the human rights of an unborn child? At what point will our nation, already so different from the country sketched by the Founding Fathers, cease to resemble her original self at all?
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.