It repeatedly cites a misogynist from the 1600s who had women executed for “witchcraft.”
Most Americans have probably never heard of Sir Matthew Hale, an English jurist who was born in 1609. But Alito cites him a half-dozen times throughout his draft as proof that abortion bans are an indispensable part of our country’s heritage.
“Hale wrote that if a physician gave a woman ‘with child’ a ‘potion’ to cause an abortion, and the woman died, it was ‘murder’ because the potion was given ‘unlawfully to destroy her child within her,’” Alito wrote in defense of outlawing abortion in 2022.
It’s not surprising that Hale was opposed to abortion, given what else reporters recently dug up about him. His legacy includes having two women executed for “witchcraft” and writing in defense of marital rape.
Though Alito holds him up as the authority on the criminality of aborting a fetus, Hale also advocated for the death penalty for children as young as 14.
If all medical standards from Hale’s life were applied today, we wouldn’t know about the existence of germs, medicinal ingredients would include the ground-up skulls of executed criminals and live worms, and doctors would cover ailing patients in leeches to suck our their blood. For most of Hale’s lifetime, doctors didn’t even have a scientific understanding of where babies came from.