A writer for the Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News local news insert “Your Hub” in its Longmont edition, got national attention yesterday for a story unearthing Alexander Hamilton’s comments on a right to privacy in relation to child birthing.
Few legal scholars are aware of the statements, which are relevant to the Founder’s intentions regarding privacy, and hence to interpretion of the constitutional right to privacy that underlies the abortion case Roe v. Wade.The bill Hamilton was commenting upon, while serving in the New York Assembly, i.e. a state legislature, would have required women with stillborn children to provide a witness to prove that they had not committed infanticide.
Hamilton opposed the bill, arguing that women would disobey the law anyway, because the shame associated with a stillbirth would outweigh the punishment that might be metted out by a court. This invasion of her privacy (although Hamilton is not quoted as using that exact word) made the legislation counterproductive in his view.
While the post is hardly a model of academic writing, the fact that a little Your Hub post can make its way into serious discussions at one of the most watched legal blogs in the country, illustrates the democratizing power of the Internet to let anyone inform anyone about anything.