Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is facing renewed attacks for signing a letter in 2006 that endorsed Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of life and called for an end to Roe v. Wade.
The letter, reported by the Daily Beast and The Guardian, was sponsored by St. Joseph County Right to Life, a pro-life group based in Indiana, and was published in a newspaper advertisement. Barrett and her husband, Jesse, signed the letter along with hundreds of other people in 2006, when Barrett was working as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
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," it said under many signatures.
On a separate page, St. Joseph County Right published a commentary on the organization's position regarding Roe vs. Wade.
"The Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion for any reason," the commentary said. "Now, after more than thirty-two years under Roe more than 47 million unborn children have been aborted. The majority of those abortions were performed for social reasons. Yet poll after poll continues to show that an increasing majority of Americans are opposed to abortion as a method of birth control. And in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade allowed and protected the brutal partial-birth abortion procedure — a practice opposed by over 70% of all Americans.
"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 message concluded.
The Guardian's report identified St. Joseph County Right to Life as "an extreme anti-choice group." It also called out the pro-life group for supporting the criminalization of abortionists and the criminalization of discarding frozen embryos created in the in vitro fertilization process.
Jackie Appleman, the executive director of St. Joseph County Right to Life, told the Guardian in an interview that the organization believes in Catholic doctrine that teaches life begins at conception.
"Whether embryos are implanted in the woman and then selectively reduced or it's done in a petri dish and then discarded, you're still ending a new human life at that point and we do oppose that," Appleman said.
"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," she said.
Barrett's public signature on the 2006 advertisement "is likely to lead to new questions about how Barrett's personal views on abortion may not only shape reproductive rights in the US for decades to come if she is confirmed by the Senate, but how her appointment could affect legal rights for women undergoing fertility treatment, as well as their doctors," the Guardian said.
The letter Barrett signed does not mention IVF, or criminalizing abortionists. Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out for National Review that Barrett and the other signatories signed only the statement opposing abortion on demand and supporting the right to life, not the commentary on the legacy of Roe v. Wade.
Yet, the Guardian reported, "Barrett's public embrace of a strict anti-choice position will nevertheless fuel concerns of progressives and pro-choice Americans about what the 48-year-old judge's confirmation to the supreme court will mean for abortion rights once conservatives gain a 6-3 majority on the court."
Progressives are indeed concerned. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, declared "everything is at stake" with Barrett's nomination.
Trump said he's only nominating justices who'll end Roe and criminalize abortion. We take him at his word. This nom… https://t.co/BzHAMJetDb— ilyseh (@ilyseh)1601564828.0
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) labeled Barrett an "extremist" and claimed, without evidence, she "wants to put women in prison for exercising control of their bodies."
Trump's handpicked Supreme Court extremist wants to put women in prison for exercising control of their bodies and… https://t.co/yjB6P5Ap1f— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@Bill Pascrell, Jr.)1601564136.0
Author Lauren Rankin said Senate Republicans want to nominate an extremist to the court.
She's made it abundantly clear that she would overturn Roe v. Wade. And if she's on the Court, Roberts doesn't even… https://t.co/JCshsIujDP— Lauren Rankin (@Lauren Rankin)1601565194.0
Hillary Clinton's former senior adviser Zac Petkanas said Barrett's signature on that letter is "disqualifying" for the Supreme Court.
This is disqualifying. https://t.co/BmH6UZIZBZ— Zac Petkanas (@Zac Petkanas)1601563729.0