Conservative ‘historian’ claims amendment guaranteeing right to trial criminalizes abortion

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, August 27, 2012 14:22 EDT
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Conservative "historian" David Barton, explaining his theory about how America's founders "recognized abortion as a crime." Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
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Self-styled conservative “historian” David Barton has never had an easy ride with things like facts, but his latest theory might strike even his supporters as a bit more than odd.

In short, Barton believes that America’s founders banned abortion when they guaranteed the right to trial by jury in the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.

“The first belief we have in American government, in American society is that there’s a divine Creator, that’s not a personal belief, that’s an official government belief, that’s in our founding document,” he said in recent comments published to YouTube. “The first thing we say is there’s a creator, the second thing we say is we believe the Creator gave us a certain set of rights, that are God-given inalienable rights, they exist to every person on the globe just because they were born, actually just because they were conceived quite frankly.”

He added: “Founding Fathers recognized abortion as a crime way back in the beginning, that’s why in the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution, part of the common law, you’re not allowed to do abortions because God gives life, not humans, humans can’t take life that God gives so it’s real simple stuff.”

Barton’s reference to “a creator” is a reference to the Declaration of Independence, which says that rights cannot be taken away by man because they’re given by “the creator.’ There is no mention of God or a creator in the Constitution, however. Barton’s theory pertains to the Bill of Rights, comprised of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Even so, nothing in the Seventh Amendment mentions pregnancy, fetuses or abortion — which one might think it would, if the founders intended to force all women to carry pregnancies to term.

His theory is instead predicated upon the assumption that all of America’s founders universally accepted that a fertilized egg cell is a living human being, despite their primitive knowledge of biology and human reproduction. Of course, that also neglects two very important passages in the very religious texts that seem to have inspired Barton’s allegations.

In the New International Version of the Christian religious texts, Genesis 2:7 explains: “God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Just one chapter later in Genesis 3:16, God tells the first woman, Eve, that pregnancy will be a punishment for leading her husband into sin. “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children,” the deity character of the Bible’s New International Version explains. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

In other words, not only does the 7th Amendment have nothing to do with regulating medical procedures or abortion, even Barton’s own religion dictates that breathing constitutes life. Other examples of life being constituted by breath include Ezekiel 37:5 and Job 33:4, which details how dry bones were resurrected with the breath of life, and how men are granted life once the breath enters them.

But for Barton, whose book “The Jefferson Lies” was recently pulled from stores by one of the largest Christian literature publishers in the U.S. due to its rampant historical inaccuracies, that’s probably not going to affect his worldview one iota.

This video was published to YouTube on August 27, 2012, as snipped by Right Wing Watch.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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