Amy Coney Barrett supported extreme anti-abortion group that believes life begins at fertilization
If President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are successful in ramming Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination through the Senate before Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court could end up with another far-right social conservative who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Barrett has made no secret of her strident opposition to the ruling, and in the Guardian, journalist Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports that Barrett has supported a group that is "considered to be extreme even within the anti-abortion movement."
That group is St. Joseph County Right to Life, based in South Bend, Indiana. Kirchgaessner notes that the group "has said life begins at fertilization" and that "the discarding of unused or frozen embryos created in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process ought to be criminalized."
According to Kirchgaessner, "In 2006, while Barrett worked as a law professor at Notre Dame, she was one of hundreds of people who signed a full-page newspaper advertisement sponsored by St Joseph County Right to Life…. The advertisement, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune, stated, '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.'"
Jackie Appleman, executive director of St. Joseph County Right to Life, told the Guardian, "We support the criminalization of the doctors who perform abortions. At this point, we are not supportive of criminalizing the women. We would be supportive of criminalizing the discarding of frozen embryos or selective reduction through the IVF process."
Kirchgaessner explains why St. Joseph County Right to Life's views are controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, noting, "For years, mainstream anti-abortion activists have avoided including discarded embryos created in the in vitro fertilization process in their crusade to protect every embryo, in part because seeking to curtail IVF treatment would be very unpopular. In Alabama, which has passed a near-total ban on abortion, embryos created through IVF are excepted from the law. But the issue has gained resonance with some fringe groups who have sought to give fertilized eggs a constitutionally protected 'right to life.'"
When the U.S. Senate confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, many feminists and pro-choice activists feared that Roe v. Wade (which, 47 years ago, legalized abortion nationwide) was in jeopardy — and if Barrett is confirmed, that 1973 decision is almost certain to be struck down. The end of Roe would not be a nationwide abortion ban, but it would allow individual states to outlaw abortion. A nationwide post-Roe abortion ban would need to be passed by both houses of Congress, which isn't going to happen as long as Democrats have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Barrett's Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin on Monday, October 12, and Trump is hoping that the Senate will have a full vote on her nomination before Election Day.