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Did Founding Fathers Believe in a Right to Abortion? Sen. Rounds: 'I Don't Believe That They Did'

By Megan Williams | December 2, 2021 | 10:35am EST
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) questions Denis McDonough, secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee for President Joe Biden, during his Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing. (Photo credit: LEIGH VOGEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) questions Denis McDonough, secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee for President Joe Biden, during his Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing. (Photo credit: LEIGH VOGEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

When asked if the Founding Fathers believed in the right to abortion, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said “I don’t think anybody could tell [the justices] where [the right to abortion] was found” in the Constitution. 

At the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, CNSNews asked the senator, “Did the Founding Fathers believe in a right to abortion?”

Rounds responded, “Well, I think that was the real question they had on there. I don’t believe that they did, and if they would have, perhaps they would have put it directly in the Constitution. So, I think what the justices asked this morning was a very good question, and that is 'tell us where in the Constitution this lies,' and I don’t think anybody could tell them where it was found.”

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case to decide if states could restrict abortion before the point of fetal viability.

According to the standard established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, no state can place an undue burden on a woman’s ability to get an abortion before her baby is considered viable, or able to survive outside of the womb. 

The Mississippi law prevents abortion after a baby has reached 15 weeks of gestation. Fetal viability is considered to occur at 24 weeks, meaning this law violates the standards of the Roe and Casey precedent. 

However, there has been significant skepticism of the Roe and Casey decisions’ bases in the Constitution, with many legal scholars arguing that they have no foundation at all. Former chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, argued Roe’s lack of constitutionality has created a mess for future abortion restrictions and legislation. 

“The key elements of the Roe framework – trimesters and viability – are not found in the text of the Constitution or in any place else one would expect to find a constitutional principle,” Rehnquist wrote. “The result has been a web of legal rules that have become increasingly intricate, resembling a code of regulations rather than a body of constitutional doctrine.”

The Dobbs case gives the Court the opportunity to overturn the Roe precedent, or at least adjust its standards, and return back to the intentions of the Founding Fathers. 

“Failing to reverse Roe and Casey in a case squarely presenting the question would suggest that the Founders’ views cannot compete with the preferred positions of some special interests,” former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese III wrote. “For the sake of a republic of laws and not of men, I hope the court will ratify the promise of the Founders’ Constitution.”

Megan Williams is a CNSNews intern and junior at Hillsdale College. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Public Address with a Journalism minor. She is the assistant opinions editor for the Hillsdale Collegian and enjoys covering local events, from concerts to conventions. Born and raised in Southern California, Megan is excited to experience D.C. and grow as a journalist with CNSNews.

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