Amy Coney Barrett Backed a Group That Wants to Criminalize Abortion Providers

In 2006, she signed a full-page newspaper ad sponsored by a Right to Life group that also objects to some parts of in vitro fertilization.
October 1, 2020, 4:14pm
Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP

UPDATED Oct. 1, 4:11 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s pick to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, once publicly supported an organization that believes life begins at fertilization and supports criminalizing abortion providers.

In 2006, when Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School, she and hundreds of other people signed on to a full-page newspaper advertisement sponsored by St. Joseph County Right to Life, a South Bend, Indiana-based anti-abortion group. The Guardian reported on the advertisement on Thursday. 

“We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death. Please continue to pray to end abortion,” read the one side of the two-page advertisement, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune. (Michiana is the region where South Bend is located.)

Barrett, 48, has been dogged by questions about her views on abortion since her nomination to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals three years ago. A devout Catholic and a purported member of the controversial charismatic Christian group People of Praise, Barrett has repeatedly indicated that she personally does not support abortion—a sharp contrast to the woman Barrett’s been nominated to replace on the Supreme Court.

Supporters of abortion rights fear that Barrett will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide and that has remained under threat ever since. If Barrett successfully replaces Ginsburg, the Supreme Court will be dominated by a 6-3 conservative majority.

The other page of the advertisement explicitly addressed Roe. (This page was not signed by anyone.) The ad read, in part, “It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.” 

The ad is not disclosed in the questionnaire Barrett provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of her Supreme Court confirmation process.

Since 2006, St. Joseph County Right to Life has merged with another anti-abortion group to become Right to Life Michiana. In an interview with the Guardian, Jackie Appleman, the group’s executive director, said that the organization is also troubled by in vitro fertilization.

“We support the criminalization of the doctors who perform abortions. At this point we are not supportive of criminalizing the women,” Appleman said. “We would be supportive of criminalizing the discarding of frozen embryos or selective reduction through the IVF process.

In a statement to the Guardian, the White House pointed to the fact that Barrett did not stay a recent execution, as an apparent sign that she is willing to diverge from her personal support of preserving the right to “natural death.”

“As Judge Barrett said on the day she was nominated, ‘A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold,’” White House deputy press secretary Judy Deere told the Guardian.

Cover: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., not pictured, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)