Anti-abortion group linked to Amy Coney Barrett has been accused of ‘harassment and intimidation’

Anti-abortion group linked to Amy Coney Barrett has been accused of ‘harassment and intimidation’

If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, one of the socially conservative justices who is almost certain to vote in favor of that is Justice Amy Coney Barrett — who has made no secret of her anti-abortion views. Barrett expressed her opposition to abortion during her pre-Supreme Court days when she signed a letter by what became Right to Life Michiana, an anti-abortion group. And according to Guardian reporter Stephanie Kirchgaessner, that has been accused of promoting harassment of abortion doctors in Indiana — including a female doctor who was warned of a kidnapping threat against her daughter.

Right to Life Michiana, Kirchgaessner reports in a Guardian article published this week, “keeps a published list of abortion providers and their place of work on its website, in what some experts say is an invitation to harass and intimidate the doctors and their staff.”

According to Kirchgaessner, “In one case, court records show, a doctor whose name was published by the group, which is called Right to Life Michiana, was warned by the FBI of a kidnapping threat that had been made online against her daughter. The threat prompted the doctor to temporarily stop providing abortion services at the Whole Woman’s Health Care clinic in South Bend, which is also named on the Michiana group’s website. The doctor said, in the court document, that the clinic regularly attracts large gatherings of protesters, who she feared could identify her.”

The anti-abortion ad that Barrett signed was published in 2006, when she was teaching at Notre Dame University and was 14 years away from joining the U.S. Supreme Court. Kirchgaessner notes that the group that sponsored that ad, St. Joseph County Right to Life, “merged with another anti-abortion group in 2020 and is now called Right to Life Michiana.”

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The 2006 ad described Roe v. Wade as “barbaric.” During her Senate confirmation hearing in 2020, Barrett said she signed the ad as a private citizen and claimed that her own personal views on abortion would not influence her from a judicial standpoint.

Barrett said of the ad, “It was consistent with the views of my church…. I do see as distinct my personal, moral, religious views and my task of applying the law as a judge.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Indiana is among the Republican-dominated red states where abortion is likely to be outlawed. But abortion, thanks to Roe, remains legal in Indiana for now — and Right to Life Michiana’s website, according to Kirchgaessner, “urges supporters to ‘take action’ against what it calls a ‘local abortion threat.’”

“In one section of the website, which is titled Local Abortion Threat: The Abortionist, the group lists the names and educational background of six doctors that it claims performs abortions at the Whole Woman’s Health Clinic in South Bend,” Kirchgaessner notes. “Among them is a doctor — who the Guardian is declining to name — who testified, in 2021, in a case involving abortion restrictions in Indiana, that she started traveling to South Bend once a month, beginning in 2020, in order to perform first trimester abortions at the South Bend clinic. She stopped making the trip, a 2.5-hour car trip each way from her home, after she was alerted by Planned Parenthood — who had been alerted by the FBI — that a kidnapping threat had been made against her daughter online.”

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In 2021, that doctor testified, “I felt it would be best for me to limit my travel and exposure during that time. I was concerned that there may be people who would be able to identify me during that travel, as well as it’s a very small clinic without any privacy for the people who are driving in and out — and so therefore, people could directly see me.”

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