Savitri Devi’s religion of the strong

This beautiful, classic Savitri Devi text is from Chapter 1 of Savitri Devi’s, Souvenirs et réflexions d’une Aryenne translated by R.G. Fowler.

“If I had to choose a motto for myself, I would take this one—“pure, dure, sûre,” [pure, hard, certain]—in other words: unalterable. I would express by this the ideal of the Strong, that which nothing brings down, nothing corrupts, nothing changes; those on whom one can count, because their life is order and fidelity, in accord with the eternal.

Oh, you who exalt the fight without end, even without hope, attach yourself to what is eternal! That alone is; the remainder is only shadow and smoke. No individual, man or beast, no group of individuals, no people as such deserves your concern for them; each, on the other hand, deserves, as a reflection of the eternal, that you devote yourself to it to the limit of your capacities. And individual beings and natural groups reflect the eternal more or less. They reflect it insofar as they approach, on all levels, the archetype of their species, insofar as they represent it as living things. He who represents only himself—even one who makes and unmakes history and whose name resounds from afar—is only shadow and smoke.

You who exalt the image of the solitary rock delivered to all the assaults of the Ocean, lashed by the winds, battered by the waves, struck by lightning at the height of the tempest, unceasingly covered by the furious foam, but always standing, millennium after millennium—you who would like to identify with your brothers in faith, with this tangible symbol of the Strong, in order to feel, “That is us! That is me!,” free yourself from two deadly superstitions: the search for “happiness” and concern for “humanity”—or take care never to fall into them, if the gods grant you the privilege of being exempt in your youth.

Happiness—which, for them, consists in unopposed natural development, to be neither hungry, nor thirsty, nor cold, nor too hot; to be able to freely live the life for which they are made, and sometimes, for some of them, also to be loved—would have to be granted to living things which do not have the Word, the father of thought. It is compensation that they are due. Use all your power to ensure it to them. Help the animal and the tree—and defend them against the selfish and mean-spirited man. Give an armful of grass to the horse or the weary donkey, a bucket of water to the buffalo dying of thirst, harnessed since daybreak to its heavy cart under the burning sky of the tropics; a friendly caress to the beast of burden, whatever it is, whose master treats it like a thing; nourish the dog or the abandoned cat that wanders in the uncaring city never having had a master; set a saucer of milk at the edge of the path and caress it with your hand if it allows you. Carry the green branch, torn off and thrown in the dust, into your house so that it is not trampled, and put it in a vase of water; it too is alive and is entitled to your solicitude. It has nothing more than silent life. That, at least, you can help it to enjoy. To live, that is its way—the way of all the beings of flesh, to which the Word was not given—of being in harmony with the eternal. And to live, for all these creatures, is happiness.

But those who have the Word, father of thought, and among them the Strong especially, have something better to do than pursue “happiness.” Their supreme task consists in finding this harmony, this accord with the eternal, of which the Word seems initially to have deprived them; to hold their place in the universal dance of life with all the enrichment, all the knowledge, that the Word can bring to them or help them to acquire; to live, like those who do not speak, according to the holy laws that govern the existence of the races, but, this time, knowing it and wanting it. The pleasure or the displeasure, the happiness or the discontent of the individual does not count. Well-being—beyond the minimum that is necessary for each to fulfill his task—does not count. Only the task counts: the quest for the essential, the eternal, through life and through thought.

Attach yourself to the essential—to the eternal. And never worry about happiness—neither your own nor that of other men; but accomplish your task, and help others achieve theirs, provided that it does not thwart your own.

He who has the Word, father of thought, and who, far from putting it in service of the essential, wastes it in the search for personal satisfactions; he who has technology, fruit of thought, and who makes use of it especially to increase his well-being and that of other men, taking that for the main task, is unworthy of his privileges. He is not worthy of the beings of beauty and silence, the animal, the tree—he who himself follows their path. He who uses the powers that the Word and thought give him to inflict death and especially suffering on the beautiful beings that do not speak, in view of his own well-being or that of other men, he who uses the privileges of man against living nature sins against the universal Mother—against Life—and the Order that desires “noblesse oblige.” He is not Strong; he is not an aristocrat in the deep sense of the word, but petty, an egoist and a coward, an object of disgust in the eyes of the natural élite.

All society, all “civilization” that proceeds from the same aspiration to human well-being above all, to well-being or human “happiness” at any price, is marked by the seal of the Powers of Decadence, enemies of the cosmic order of the play of forces without end. It is a civilization of the Dark Age. If you are obliged to suffer it, suffer it by unceasingly opposing it, denouncing it, combating it every minute of your life. Make it your glory to hasten its end—at least to cooperate with all your might with the natural action of the forces leading to its end. For it is accursed. It is organized ugliness and meanness.

Rid yourself not only of the superstition of “happiness,” if it ever allured you, but also that of man. Protect yourself from the attitude, as vain as it is stupid, that consists in trying “to love all men” simply because they are men. And if this attitude was never yours, if, from childhood, you were impermeable to the propaganda of the devotees of “humanity,” give thanks to the immortal Gods to whom you owe this innate wisdom. Nothing prohibits to you, certainly, from giving a hand to a man who needs help, even the most worthless. The Strong are generous. But in that case, they would be good to him as living flesh, not as a man. And if it is a question of choosing between him and a creature deprived of the Word but closer to the archetype of its species than he is to that of the ideal man, i.e., the superior man, give your preference and your solicitude to this creature: it is more an artwork of the eternal artist.

For “man,” who is esteemed so highly, is not a reality but a construction of the mind starting from living elements of a disconcerting variety. No doubt all “species” are a construction of the mind: their names correspond to general ideas. But there is an enormous difference: the living realities that are the individuals of each species resemble each other. The species exists in each one of them. All the specimens that are attached to it reflect the eternal to the same degree, or thereabouts. The individuals of the same race, races that do not have the Word, are almost interchangeable. Their possibilities are fixed. One knows what the world of living things gains every time a kitten is born; one knows what it loses every time a cat, young or old, dies. But one does not know what it gains—or loses—every time a human baby is born. Because what is a man?

The most perfect Nordic specimen, whose heart is noble and whose judgment is firm and just, and whose features and carriage are those of the Greek statues of the finest age, is “a man.” A Hottentot, a Pygmy, a Papuan, a Jew, a Levantine mixed with Jews, are “men.” “Man” does not exist. There exist only quite diverse varieties of primates that by convention are called “human” because they share an upright stance and the Word, the latter to quite unequal degrees. And within the same race—moreover, within the same people—there are insurmountable divergences, psychic as well as physical, divergences that one would like to be able, even though morbidity explains them partly, to blame on interbreeding in the remote past, so much do such differences between individuals of the same blood appear to be against nature. It is already shocking to witness such frequent and violent ideological (or religious) oppositions between racial brothers. It is even more shocking to learn that, even though Saint Vincent de Paul was French, there are child-abusers who are French also, or to learn that the beautiful and virtuous Laure de Noves, countess of Sade, had, four centuries after her death, among her descendants the marquis of ill-repute who bears the same name.

Thus I repeat: one does not know, one cannot predict, what the world of living things gains or loses every time a young being called human is born or dies. And the less the race is pure, i.e., the fewer possibilities each baby has from the start, and roughly uniform—and also, the less the society tends to pour all individuals of the same group into the same mould, i.e., the less it tends always to encourage the development of the same possibilities, and that, roughly, in the same direction—the less it is possible to guess it. Because then, the more the exception—unclassifiable individuality—will be frequent within a group of the same name, this “name” corresponding no more to reality. It will be relatively possible, and also easy, to envisage in precise circumstances the reactions of a member of an American Indian, African, or Indian tribe—say, a Jivaro or a Masai or a Santal remaining in his natural environment and subjected to his tradition—and those of an Aryan (German or not) who is at the same time an orthodox Hitlerian. It will be more difficult to envisage those of an unspecified non-aligned Western European.

It is, however, true that—beyond a certain degree of mixing of races and cultures and conditioning on a vast scale, thanks to all the modern means of communication—people end up resembling each other strangely, psychically if not physically; they resemble each another in nullity. They think that everything testifies to their independence and originality, yet, in fact, their reactions in similar circumstances are as identical as those of two individuals of the same tribe of Blacks or Redskins, or . . . those of people of the same race, bound by the same faith. The extremes meet. The ethnic chaos of the masses of a metropolis at the forefront of technological progress tends to acquire a uniformity of grayness, a kind of manufactured homogeneity—desired by those who control the masses—a sinister caricature of the relative unity natural to people of the same blood that binds a scale of values and common practices; a uniformity which, far from revealing a “collective mind,” at whatever level of awareness, reveals only the deterioration of a society that has definitively turned its back on the eternal—in other words: a damned society.

But one can still sometimes discover an exceptional individual within such a society, an individual who disdains the ethnic chaos that he sees around him and of which he is perhaps himself a product, and who, in order to escape, adheres to some doctrine of the extinction of the species, or even puts himself completely at the service of a true race, with all the renunciation that entails for him. The mechanism of heredity is so complex and the play of external influences so random that it is not possible to envisage who among the children of a declining society will become such individuals—no more than it is possible to envisage which new-born member of a tribe will aspire one day to something other than received values and ideas, or which child raised in a particular faith will hasten to leave it as soon as he can.

The exception is sometimes probable and always possible in a human group, even if it is homogeneous—which is not to say that, in practice, one can or even must always take this into account: that would complicate the relationships between groups ad infinitum. Moreover the exception, if he represents something more than himself, changes groups whenever he can. If there were an Aztec who was shocked by the sacrifices offered to the gods of his people, this man would be among the first to adopt the religion of the Spanish conquerors; and an Aryan of Europe who, in our time, feels only contempt for the “Christian and democratic” values of the West and dreams of a society in the image of ancient Sparta, adheres, if he has a taste for combat, to the Hitlerian faith.”

Invading the world, inviting the world – with ideas

Thanks to a more connected world, riots can now start in one country because people are downloading media that has been produced in another, as we have seen in the Arab world just recently.

As a result of anti-Moslem propaganda entering their countries, Moslems have begun calling for global censorship and there’s been the predictable response from the kind of kneejerk anti-Moslems you can’t expect to analyse the news in three dimensions, as though it was another case of Moslem immigrants protesting Mohammed cartoons. But of course they’re ignoring that foreign ideas are in this case ‘invading’ Islamic countries, and missing the point by talking about how Moslems alone want to force their values onto the rest of the world.

Where is the outcry about the absurd attempts by globalists to criminalise fictional depictions of the abuse of nonexistent children in Japan, under the guise of children’s rights? The principle here only is the same – the world has many different value systems that conflict, and globalism inevitably results in the exchange of ideas between societies.

What is the response of the people pushing for globalism when connectivity threatens their rules? Consider the above example – to prevent certain pornographic material reaching the west, the west targeted the source. Pushing to maintain a global monopoly over the production of media and information actually becomes defensive when global connectedness opens the door and lets all kinds of unwelcome media in as long as they’re produced at an outside source.

What is the difference between American and Islamic calls for global censorship? When people naturally object to certain foreign ideas or images entering their countries, they will feel they must force their own set of values on a connected, global world or they must disconnect from it.

I left a comment about this at American Renaissance.

Muslim Leaders Make Case for Global Blasphemy Ban at U.N.
Patrick Goodenough

“This is in fact an issue of globalism not of Islam.

The USA promoted one global internet in order to maintain a global monopoly over culture, infecting other societies with gangsta rap and barnyard porn – not to mention political messages – and bashed other countries for their internet firewalls. Yet at the same time the USA pushed for pointless moral legislation at the *global* level, the most obvious being laws against child pornography featuring nonexistent children (ie *drawings* such as Japanese manga).

Yea well, others can play at that game too – Moslems are just catching up with the interconnected, globalist age America wished for and forced upon everyone else.

“Invite the world, invade the world” applies to information as it does to wars and immigration.”

As left-leaning political scientist Paul Treanor has already perfectly examined the internet as a globalist ideology, I won’t bother rewording him. ‘One world’ surely requires one set of values, as long as global communications are imposed upon the world, is it really fair to blame the Moslems if they only want to globalise the censorship of hostile ideas in defence?

Internet as Hyper-Liberalism
Paul Treanor

“Liberalism, as an interaction-maximising ethic, has produced a number of structures, including the free market. Internet, as a ‘marketplace’ for ideas, shows the characteristics of liberal structures clearly, and intensifies them. However, it is still subject to linguistic and cultural barriers, rather than creating a global community. More fundamentally, liberal structures are contra-innovative, and in fact the structure of the Net shows a technological conservatism. The Internet is a political or ethical concept, rather than technological concept. It threatens to impose itself on the world. It is the Net itself which is wrong: freedom from censorship, or equality of access, cannot make it good. The conclusion is simple: the Net must be cut, and Europe is the place to start.”

“Net-ism is wrong because it is coercively expansionist. There is no inherent or inevitable technical or historical trend to a single communication network. On the contrary: never before in history, have so many separate networks been technically possible. Linking all networks together is a conscious choice by some people, a choice then imposed on others. The logic is identical to that of colonial governments, which forced peasants into the agricultural market, by imposing cash taxes. (To pay the tax, the peasants had to sell cash crops such as sugar). This logic says in effect: ‘no one is free to stay outside the free market’. Today, not just governments, but business, social movements, intellectuals and artists, all want to impose the Net. This broad movement is obviously more than profit-seeking (and a non-profit Net would also be wrong). It is an ideological movement seeking ideological imposition. That imposition itself, the universalism, the expansionism, their involuntary nature, the basic unfreedom to exit – that is what makes liberal structures wrong. That applies to the free market, and it applies inherently to the Internet.”

“It is useful at this point to summarise the characteristics and goals of liberalism: it seeks to (a) maximise interaction; (b) to maximise the number of those interacting; (c) to maximise the number affected by each transaction; and (d) to maximise the zone where interaction takes place. By creating chains of interactions, it transmits cause and effect – it collectivises action.”

“For cyber-ideology, however, the greatest advantage of Internet, is an advantage that is derived from liberal models. Liberals see ideas and opinions as objects of exchange: if a liberal has an opinion, he or she wants to ‘express it’ and exchange it with others. The priority of dialogue and communication, in neo-liberal theories (such as communicative ethics), parallels the priority of market exchange, in classic liberalism. (In this sense communicative ethics, and dialogue ethics, have already set the political-ethical framework for cyberspace).”

“The Net is a monopoly, unavoidable, a choice for the past – it is a historical veto. A group, elite, movement, or ideology, does not have the right to impose this veto on the world. It is therefore legitimate, in a political and ethical sense, to cut the Net. The greatest long-distance data flow is the place to make the first cut: a cut in Atlanticism.”

“Very probably, Net-ists in Europe would refuse this option, this scenario. It is not a very probable future anyway. The point is, that Net-ism is a universalist expansionist ideology, and the scenario puts it to the test. Net-ism does not want a choice: it wants the Net, one Net, one global Net, one Net everywhere, one universal cyberspace, and nothing less.”

Girls – avoid university, become a mummy instead

Here’s another comment for your interest, this time its about the futures of daughters and it was posted by ‘MKP’ over at The Spearhead.

I know which future I’d rather have, it’s better to be a first time mum at 14 than at 40, just be careful to sleep only with the right kind of men.

People who have kids in their early 20s or earlier, instead of partying and riding the cock carousel, end up happier in later life. You want to end up like the old bags in Sex and the City?


“I agree with everything you said, but especially the last paragraph. In fact, we’ve reached the strange point where an intelligent, forward thinking man might not even be that angry when his 17-year-old daughter comes home pregnant. Think about that – the catastrophic fear of every father for most of the past few generations, slowly turning into a better option than most others.

Sure, it might have been smarter to wait. Sure, she might have picked a dumb, irresponsible guy. But you never know – sometimes young men can show drive and discipline that might surprise you. And at any rate, she’s as least taken some step, however, crooked, toward forming a family and fulfilling the role of mother in a way that will make it the first priority of her life. And what exactly is she “giving up” by missing out on the college-party-slut scene?

What’s better – a daughter who comes home pregnant at 17, or a daughter who spends 10 years amassing worthless university degrees, another 10 years popping birth control pills, sleeping with random guys and working some meaningless job, and then wakes up at age 38 to realize that she will probably never have children?

Those might be our options. The nice happy medium – graduate high school, take 1-4 years to meet a nice guy, then get married and dedicate yourself to raising a family – is pretty much not something that’s even on most women’s radars.”

Who are you?

“My ancient forbears were heathens, and my ancestors were heretics. For their exoneration I collect the pieces that Rome left over.” – Otto Rahn

A perfect storm… against America

This new article of Thomas Fleming’s says it all about the regime change in Libya, something that’s now long overdue in the USA itself (and here…).

The USA might have installed a new ruling elite, and the Libyans might have ‘their’ new central bank, but popular opinion over there is strongly against the USA and Israel.

How long will this regime last? Did the USA think Libya would become a new ally?

Reaping the Whirlwind
Thomas Fleming


“Naturally, our Libyan ally, whom the US and its allies put into power, would wish to minimize the involvement of Libyans in the murder of the US ambassador. Nonetheless, his opinion is confirmed by reporters who have interviewed protestors. Many of them have not seen or even heard of the movie, and they say they are motivated primarily by hatred of the US and Israel.

What else did President Obama and his Secretary of State expect? When Arab Spring erupted, wiser heads than the administration apparently has in its employ predicted the outcome: the overthrow of pragmatic dictators who had learned to be grateful the US–or at least to fear it–and a triumph for Islamist forces. If we can believe Hilary Clinton, she expected an upsurge of democracy and women’s rights. What she faces now is a dramatic rise in Islamic anti-Americanism. Of course, Clinton cannot admit the truth, because it would be an admission that her own foreign policy has been a disaster for US security.”

“The Obama administration, following McCain’s lead, is trying to deny or minimize foreign elements in the Benghazi attack that cost Chris Stevens his life. Benghazi has symbolic importance: it is the place where the Libyan Revolution began. But as early as last November, the Al Quaeda flag was raised, along with the flag of the Libyan rebels, over a Benghazi courthouse.

There are insane Muslims, as there are insane Christians and insane Jews, but the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have temporarily abandoned their daily lives to show their hatred of the United States are neither insane nor disgruntled film critics. They may not all watch CNN or read a newspaper, but they know that the US government has been regularly killing Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It’s different when we do it, of course, because we believe in democracy, human rights, and the liberation of women, but in the eyes of these poor benighted Muslims, a dead child is a dead child.”

NRTs, heredity and eugenics

Sometimes I read someone else’s Disqus comments online and I feel like repeating them, because they stand out by making sense.

This was posted on the Telegraph’s website by someone called ‘eighteen’ about NRTs and eugenics.


“Science will attempt to cure things that many do not see as illnesses, the Asperger community does not wish to be “cured” as they do not think there is anything wrong with them, that is just one sensible example of science meandering in to “cure”.

The ideal of what is “best” is different between people and cultures, use of this tech would streamline the ideal a dangerous place to be. Not to mention that many disabilities might aid the human race in the future, when we evolved our ape like brethren may have thought us disabled, giving everyone the same gene structure may hamper further evolution. People with sickle cell anemia have immunity to malaria the rest of us do not, if we remove certain minor disabilities we might remove humanities best defence its protection.

Of course I must mention the elephant in the room, this is simply eugenics being forced onto the populace, With this power a lunatic could force the children to be in the image of how he deems fit, be that all white with blond hair, removing the disability of free thought ect.

Of course what if a doctor decided for his own nefarious reasons, to produce a child with brilliant athletic abilities but with the morality of a complete psychopath, just to see what would happen, stronger and faster than his peers.

Disabilities can be veiwed both way, most people with aspergers do not wish to be cured, but the doctor would surely advise they be prevented from getting it. Once this law goes through there will be nought to stop more and more engineering untill we eventually end up with a produced race, of Slave workers.

If you have a disability its irresponsible to breed, Do not try and fiddle with the code of life, or even to allow others to do the same, so you can satisfy a selfish need.

Popular pro-choice lies about legal history

How often have you been told that abortion was always safe and legal before the Victorians, and that medieval people used abortion casually all the time? Dubious sources like Carl Sagan and of course the US supreme court quote sources such as Mohr and Means as an authority, but how reliable were such people as historians?

It turns out such people created a pseudo-historical myth by ignoring inconvenient evidence that they knew was available, selectively interpreting that which was, and oversimplifying complex concepts like ‘quick with child’ that have no real equivalent in use today.

It looks like I’ve got another book to purchase…

How the Supremes Flunked History
Mary Meehan


“Dellapenna is also a fierce critic of Roe v. Wade, and has been for more than 30 years. As a young professor, he was studying population policy when the Supreme Court decided Roe in 1973. Justice Harry Blackmun had relied on two articles by law professor Cyril C. Means, Jr., for his Roe history of abortion law, so Dellapenna read the Means articles. He found some of their claims to be “seriously deficient even based on the evidence Means himself presented.” Dellapenna started researching and writing about the history of abortion law and eventually submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in major abortion cases.”

“His main focus is the history of abortion law in England and the United States. The English emphasis is important because English common law – the customary law, based on cases and precedents rather than statutes – often was decisive in early U.S. history unless replaced by specific statutory law. American lawyers and judges had to know the common law.”

“Dellapenna shows that the late Prof. Means, who taught at the New York Law School, was wrong in claiming there was a common-law liberty to have an abortion. (If there were such a liberty, there might be a strong argument that the Constitution’s Ninth Amendment protects it as a right “retained by the people.”) He says the “history embraced in Roe could not withstand careful examination even when Roe was written.” Research since that time has shown the Roe version of history to be even worse than many critics had thought. Sir John Hamilton Baker, an expert on English legal history who teaches at the University of Cambridge, has found and translated early case records that previously were available only in Latin or “Law French” (a leftover from the Norman conquest of England). California attorney Philip Rafferty, with much assistance from Baker, has gone deeply into those common-law cases. Dellapenna has drawn on their work and has done much of his own research on the medical history of abortion.”

“Rafferty, in his Roe v. Wade: The Birth of a Constitutional Right, documents over 100 English abortion-related cases that occurred before the American colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. His appendices, consisting mainly of verbatim case reports, provide an enormous amount of information on these and later cases. The information shows that Justice Blackmun was clearly wrong about the common law. Legally speaking, Roe v.Wade is already tottering on the edge of a cliff.

Prof. Means, he says, was general counsel of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) when he wrote one of the articles cited by Justice Blackmun in Roe. Dellapenna charges that Means “designed his research to support the political task of changing the abortion laws,” missed much key evidence, and distorted other evidence. Other scholars – including Linda Gordon, Angus McLaren, James C. Mohr, Leslie J. Reagan, John M. Riddle, and Laurence Tribe – come in for their share of criticism as well.

Henry de Bracton, the first major compiler of the common law, wrote in the mid-1200s that if someone “strikes a pregnant woman or gives her a potion in order to procure an abortion, if the foetus is already formed or animated, especially if it is animated, he commits homicide.”

“The distinctions between formed or unformed, animated or not animated, have bedeviled the abortion debate – and discriminated against the youngest of the unborn – at least since the time of Aristotle. In the Middle Ages, as in ancient times, people had no knowledge of genetics and did not understand embryonic and fetal development. They had no ultrasound, fetoscopy, or other “windows on the womb.” St. Thomas Aquinas and other leading theologians accepted Aristotle’s theory of delayed ensoulment; they believed that early abortions were gravely sinful, but not homicide. And lawyers had major evidentiary problems when dealing with abortion. In an early abortion, what was visible to the naked eye might not seem human to a witness. If someone beat a woman severely, and she miscarried weeks later, how could one prove that the beating caused the miscarriage? If a child was stillborn, how could one prove that he or she was alive when the abortion occurred?

There was, though, some protection for the unborn before the time of formation – or of quickening, when that later became the norm. In the Middle Ages, and for some time after the Reformation, church courts in England prosecuted some abortion cases, including ones that involved “potions” or drugs. And for at least part of that period, doctors, midwives, and druggists took oaths that they would not do abortions or provide drugs for them.”

One assault case, known at the time of Roe and heavily relied on by Cyril Means, was known only by an incomplete report – and thus had been misinterpreted by major commentators. Means also misinterpreted it, claiming it established that abortion “was not a felony at all at common law.” In the 1327-28 case, Rex v. de Bourton, Richard de Bourton was accused of beating a woman late in pregnancy. She was carrying twins; the beating allegedly killed one in the womb and caused the other to die soon after birth. The brief report upon which Means relied said the judges “were unwilling to adjudge this thing a felony.”

Prof. Baker found original court records of the case showing that Bourton had been accused of a felony with respect to at least one of the twins, and possibly both. One record quotes a message from King Edward III. Relying on information from his chief justice, the King wrote that Bourton had been indicted for beating a tailor’s wife, Alice Carles, who was “greatly pregnant” with twins, so that “he feloniously killed one of the aforesaid children in the belly of the same Alice its mother, and broke the head and arm of the other…so that it was forthwith born and baptized by the name of Joan,” and immediately died. Other court documents refer to Joan’s death alone as a felony, although Prof. Baker has suggested this “may have been clerical shorthand.” Bourton’s case was delayed when he was arrested on another allegation, and delayed again when jurors failed to appear for the twins’ case. Meanwhile, Bourton obtained a royal pardon that ended the twins’ case. Dellapenna notes that pardons were then “issued to many on condition that they agree to serve in the Scottish wars.” Bourton, though, “appears to have been exempted from such a condition, perhaps indicating that he was well connected at court.”

Baker, Dellapenna, and Rafferty, all say the judges’ unwillingness “to adjudge this thing a felony” was just a preliminary conclusion related to bail. In other words, the judges thought that if Bourton had beaten Alice Carles, he may not have acted with “malice aforethought” in the sense of intending to kill the twins. But the question of whether Bourton had, in fact, committed a felony was left open – until the royal pardon ended the case.

Sir Edward Coke, a colossus of English legal history, dealt with abortion in his Third Institute (1644). He said that when a woman who was “quick with childe” aborted herself, or was beaten by a man, and the child was born dead, then “this is a great misprision, and no murder.” (Elsewhere he described this type of misprision as “some heynous offence under the degree of felony.”) But if the child was born alive, and then died of an injury received in the abortion attempt, Coke said, the offense was murder. Coke thus modified Bracton and created the “born-alive rule.” It’s hard to be sure what Coke meant by “quick with childe.” The term usually is interpreted to mean “quickening” – that is, the time when a pregnant woman first feels fetal movements. Medical authorities today generally place this at 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. But Dellapenna and Rafferty say the term “quick with child” sometimes meant simply that the child was alive, and Rafferty makes a strong case on this point.

Prof. Means, who claimed to have presented English common law on abortion “thoroughly,” managed to miss most of the cases. This enabled him to say the sketchy record of what he called The Abortionist’s Case (1348) proved that abortion was not a crime of any type at common law. The case record stated: “One was indicted for killing a child in the womb of its mother, and the opinion was that he shall not be arrested on this indictment since no baptismal name was in the indictment, and also it is difficult to know whether he killed the child or not, etc.” Yet the issue of baptismal name was not even raised in most abortion cases. And if the authorities felt the evidence was insufficient for trial in The Abortionist’s Case, that said absolutely nothing about evidence in other cases.

Justice Harry Blackmun, relying on the writing of Prof. Means, wrote in Roe v. Wade that it seemed “doubtful that abortion was ever firmly established as a common-law crime even with respect to the destruction of a quick fetus.” Compare that remark with Agnes’s Appeal, Juliana’s Appeal, Rex v. Scharp, Rex v. de Bourton, Regina v. Webb, and the following cases scattered over several centuries. Relying on Rafferty’s appendices, I have noted the outcome of each case where known; but the key item is the charge or indictment, since it shows the criminal status of abortion…

“As it evolved through the centuries, English common law did not treat abortion as ordinary homicide. This was partly due to confusion about formation, animation, and quickening; but the vexing problem of evidence was also a major factor. The record shows concern about the lives of both mothers and children, but clearly not enough for sufficient protection. In 1803 Parliament passed a law that made abortion a felony, and one punishable by death when done while the mother was “quick with child.” An 1837 law deleted the “quick with child” distinction; it also substituted imprisonment or transportation (exile) for the death penalty. According to Dellapenna, the penalty was changed because “juries were increasingly reluctant to convict abortionists if the penalty were death.” He says this reluctance wasn’t unique to abortion, but “extended to all capital crimes.” He emphasizes that legal changes in the 1800s were “primarily directed at the protection of fetal life” and that new scientific evidence about conception had much to do with those changes.”

American interpretation of the common law generally followed William Blackstone, whose 1765-69 volumes, Commentaries on the Laws of England, were a key authority for U.S. lawyers and judges both before and after the American Revolution. Blackstone wrote that abortion of a woman “quick with child” that resulted in the birth of a dead child “was by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter. But the modern law doth not look upon this offence in quite so atrocious a light, but merely as a heinous misdemeanor.” He supported Sir Edward Coke’s born-alive rule.

Dellapenna shows that in the United States, as in England, new scientific evidence about fetal development led to much anti-abortion legislation in the 1800s. While early laws often made a quickening distinction, later ones generally did not. Dellapenna presents much information on changes in abortion techniques and social life that led to major increases in abortion in the late 1800s and the 1900s. Taking the story through the year 2003, he deals with Roe v. Wade and other major abortion cases at length.

In breaks between long sessions of reading his book, I began to wonder why it had taken the Supreme Court so long to deal with abortion. From research in other sources, it was my impression that the Court’s first abortion decision was in United States v. Vuitch, a 1971 case about District of Columbia law. Returning to Dellapenna, I was amazed to find five Supreme Court cases, long before Vuitch, that were related to abortion or mentioned it. The cases, from 1877-1949, didn’t involve constitutional challenges to anti-abortion laws. But they showed that the Court took for granted the criminal nature of abortion. None of the justices suggested any constitutional problems with anti-abortion laws. In fact, two or three of the decisions upheld state action against abortionists. Dellapenna notes that Justice Blackmun “did not even bother to cite, let alone to discuss” the five cases in his Roe opinion.