Amy Coney Barrett’s Views Threaten All People With the Capacity for Pregnancy, Including Anti-Abortion Mothers Like Her

Call Your Senators and Tell Them to Oppose Barrett's Confirmation

In 2006, President Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett, signed an advertisement announcing a commitment not only to ending abortion but also to defending “the right to life from the moment of fertilization until natural death.”

Amy Barrett is a devout Catholic and she is the proud mother of seven children. But even those who share her values and her strong anti-abortion stance should be opposed to her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To their dismay, women who agree with Barrett have discovered that the “defense of the right to life” can be used to justify dangerous and sometimes lethal actions against them.

This is exactly what Amber Marlowe discovered when she went to give birth to her seventh child in a Pennsylvania hospital. A doctor believed that Marlowe was putting her baby’s life in jeopardy by refusing cesarean surgery. Like Barrett, Marlowe is deeply religious and profoundly opposed to abortion. But having given birth to six children, Marlowe knew her body. When she refused to consent, the hospital went to court asking to be able to perform surgery anyway. The court granted the request and gave the hospital custody of the child, “before, during and after delivery.”

Before the order was served on her, Marlowe fled to another hospital where she delivered a healthy baby, vaginally.

In Florida, Laura Pemberton also discovered that neither her religious faith nor her opposition to abortion could protect her from dehumanizing treatment.

Pemberton was pregnant with her fifth child. A prior birth had been by cesarean and she wanted to avoid another surgery. No hospital would admit her unless she agreed to cesarean delivery. When authorities learned she was laboring at home, a sheriff took her into custody. Doctors claimed that because of the previous cesarean, her uterus could rupture and a vaginal birth would deprive this fetus of its right to life. She was forced to have the surgery. Subsequent vaginal births of three more children, including a set of twins, disproved the medical assumptions the doctors had made about vaginal births after cesareans.

When Pemberton later argued that her rights had been violated, she was told the fetus's right to life outweighed all of her rights including her right to religious freedom.

Rinat Dray, a member of a religious Jewish community that values large families, was pregnant with her third child and planned to have more. She had had very difficult recoveries from two previous cesarean deliveries. She knew that cesarean surgery quadruples the risk of maternal death, and that risks of dying or serious complications increase with every cesarean. As a result, she wanted to attempt a vaginal birth. When she went to deliver at Staten Island University Hospital, part of the Northwell Health System, her physician insisted on surgery. When she refused and asked for more time to deliver vaginally, he put into action a hospital policy that had never been disclosed to her. The policy authorized surgery on pregnant patients without their consent and without a court order.

Dray was forced to undergo the surgery that injured her bladder. To defend its actions, this Northwell hospital argued that requiring doctors to respect their pregnant patients’ decisions would deprive “unborn fetuses of their right to live.”

These women mistakenly believed their decisions would be respected, not understanding what happens when a right to life for the unborn is recognized. And, they were lucky compared to Angela Carder. Carder was 27 years old, 26 weeks pregnant, and critically ill when a Washington D.C. judge ordered her to undergo cesarean surgery over her objections and those of her Catholic family. Based on the claim that the fetus would live only if delivered immediately and the belief that he had an obligation to give the fetus a chance for life, a judge ordered the surgery knowing that it could kill Carder. Neither Carder nor her baby survived.

Barrett, a law professor and sitting federal court judge, is undoubtedly aware of the implications for pregnant women of her defense of a right to life. This includes women who rely on in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, a process that typically involves the creation of more fertilized embryos than are implanted. But defense of a right to life from fertilization provides the basis for criminalizing the disposal of unused embryos. And, as peer reviewed research has documented, numerous prosecutors believe it provides the basis for arresting women who they believe are somehow threatening fetal life.

Barrett’s elevation to the court would mean support for an extremist perspective that allows forced medical interventions, the end of IVF as it now exists, and criminalization of women who have abortions, experience pregnancy losses, or engage in any behavior deemed potentially harmful to a fetus’ right to life.

And it is one that will leave all mothers, including those who share Barrett’s beliefs, without legal protection.

Please share this, especially with friends, family, and others in your life who oppose the right to abortion

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