Originalism, Abortion, and the Thirteenth Amendment

31 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2012

Date Written: December 4, 2012


Does an originalist reading of the Thirteenth Amendment support a right to abortion? Not long ago a negative answer seemed obvious enough to make the question silly. Since then, however, originalism has become more sophisticated. It is now understood that original meaning, not original intent, is the most appropriate originalist source of constitutional law. The original meaning of constitutional language sometimes focuses on paradigm cases: specific evils that the Constitution aims to keep from recurring. The Thirteenth Amendment’s purpose is to end the specific institution of antebellum slavery. A ban on abortion would do to women what slavery did to the women who were enslaved: compel them to bear children against their will.

Keywords: Originalism, Abortion, Thirteenth Amendment

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew M., Originalism, Abortion, and the Thirteenth Amendment (December 4, 2012). Columbia Law Review, Forthcoming, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 12-32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2187086

Andrew M. Koppelman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8431 (Phone)

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