Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, publicly supported a Christian fundamentalist organization espousing extreme anti-abortion views, The Guardian revealed Thursday.
In 2006, when Barrett was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, she joined hundreds of Indiana and Michigan conservatives in signing a full-page newspaper ad sponsored by St. Joseph County Right to Life and published in the South Bend Tribune expressing strong opposition to the fundamental reproductive rights affirmed by the Supreme Court more than 47 years ago.
“We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death,” the letter states. “Please continue to pray to end abortion.”
On a separate page in the same paper, the anti-choice group wrote that “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.”
However, the beliefs espoused by St. Joseph County Right to Life are considered extreme even by the standards of the so-called pro-life movement. The group believes that life begins at fertilization, not at the point of embryonic implantation or fetal viability. This means that the group inherently opposes in vitro fertilization.
“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,” Jackie Appleman, the group’s executive director, told The Guardian.
Furthermore, Appleman said that “we support the criminalization of the doctors who perform abortions,” although, “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 added.
The letter Barrett signed does not mention criminalizing IVF or abortion doctors, and Ramesh Ponnuru noted in the right-wing National Review that she only signed the statement opposing on-demand abortion, not the page calling Roe v. Wade “barbaric.”
Still, abortion advocates continue to express concern about what the addition of Barrett to an already conservative court will mean for reproductive rights.
“Trump said he’s only nominating justices who’ll end Roe and criminalize abortion. We take him at his word,” tweeted NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue. “This nominee fits the bill. Everything is at stake.”
Barrett has also come under fire for her other views on women, most notably for her membership in People of Praise, a conservative Catholic group which some former members have said expects females—who are excluded from some leadership roles—to be “absolutely obedient” to their husbands and other men.