Amy Barrett Believes Life Begins at Conception, Questions Roe’s “Judicial Fiat” of “Abortion on Demand”

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 25, 2020   |   5:18PM   |   Washington, DC

A 2013 article from Notre Dame Magazine offers more hints of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s opinions about abortion.

Barrett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is considered to be one of President Donald Trump’s top choices for the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump plans to announce his choice Saturday.

Though the article primarily focused on students and faculty going to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., it also described a lecture that Barrett gave at the university a few days prior to the event. The subject was “Roe at 40: The Supreme Court, Abortion and the Culture War that Followed.”

In her talk, she brought up how both pro-life and pro-abortion legal experts have criticized Roe v. Wade as a bad decision, according to the report. These include the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an icon of abortion activists and the person whose seat Barrett may fill.

“Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the Court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict,” Ginsburg said in 1985.

The infamous abortion ruling, handed down by an all-male Supreme Court in 1973, forced states to legalize abortion on demand, rather than allow voter-elected state legislatures to decide for themselves.

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According to the magazine, Barrett criticized the ruling for “ignit[ing] a national controversy” through judicial fiat.

Here’s more from the report:

Barrett reviewed the debate over the Supreme Court’s “institutional capacity” to resolve divisive questions like the legality of abortion. … Barrett spoke both to her own conviction that life begins at conception and to the “high price of pregnancy” and “burdens of parenthood” that especially confront women before she asked her audience whether the clash of convictions inherent in the abortion debate is better resolved democratically.

By creating through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand in a political environment that was already liberalizing abortion regulations state-by-state, she said, the court’s concurrent rulings in Roe and Doe v. Bolton “ignited a national controversy.”

Barrett also said she thought it was “very unlikely” that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, the report states. At the time, there was a 5-4 liberal majority on the court.

Barrett is a former clerk of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a strong conservative who died unexpectedly in 2016. Like Scalia, Barrett describes herself as an “originalist” judge.

Though her judicial rulings on abortion are few, she did rule in support of two Indiana pro-life laws during her time on the Seventh Circuit. She also has made several statements about the value of babies in the womb. According to the Law and Crime blog, Barrett signed a public letter in 2015 that emphasized “the value of human life from conception to natural death.” She also said she believes that life begins at conception.