When former President Donald Trump nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, pro-abortion Democrats and media pundits freaked out at the thought that she would somehow find a way to overturn the precedent set by Roe v. Wade that effectively legalized abortions nationwide.
Following Barrett’s line of questioning during Wednesday’s oral arguments on a Mississippi abortion law, some believe she signaled her intention to do exactly that.
According to The Daily Beast, Barrett noted that adoption has become more of a feasible option in recent years, effectively dismantling arguments often made by pro-choice advocates about the burdens of parenting.
Adoption vs. abortion
The case at hand, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, involves a blocked Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks gestation. The case calls into question the precedent set by Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 determining that the point of fetal viability is generally around 24 weeks, and that abortion should generally be allowable everywhere up to that point.
During Wednesday’s oral arguments, while speaking with an attorney representing an abortion clinic in Mississippi, Justice Barrett raised the topic of “safe haven” laws — now expanded in all 50 states — that allow parents to drop off a newborn baby, no questions asked, and relinquish their parental rights shortly after the child’s birth.
“So it seems to me, seen in that light, both Roe and Casey emphasize the burdens of parenting, and insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which forced parenting, forced motherhood, would hinder women’s access to the workplace and to equal opportunities, it’s also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy,” Barrett said.
“Why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem? It seems to me that it focuses the burden much more narrowly,” she added. “There is, without question, an infringement on bodily autonomy, you know, which we have in other contexts, like vaccines. However, it doesn’t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden.”
Roe‘s days may be numbered
Given the prevalence of “safe haven” laws and the professed burden of motherhood, Barrett asked why a state couldn’t compel women to carry a baby to term and then immediately relinquish their parental rights and place that baby up for adoption — in essence, obviating the need for abortions to avoid motherhood altogether.
The pro-abortion attorney pushed back on the justice’s question by noting that adoption was a viable alternative when Roe and Casey were first decided, and that those rulings were about more than just the “burdens” of motherhood, but also the potential danger and health risks of pregnancy itself.
This question from Amy Coney Barrett is basically game over for Roe. She says: Now that all 50 states have “safe haven” laws that let women relinquish parental rights after birth, the burdens of parenthood discussed in Roe and Casey are irrelevant, and the decisions are obsolete. pic.twitter.com/omyhGISVmN
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 1, 2021
Justice Barrett went on to note that the topic of adoption was merely a “passing reference” in those two prior decisions as she tried unsuccessfully to pin the attorney down on what, exactly, were the primary reasons why abortion should be legal and perhaps even preferable to bringing a baby to term and placing it up for adoption.
To be sure, nobody can say for sure how any of the justices will rule on this particular case, but based on the questioning posed by Barrett and others, it seems possible — and maybe even likely — that Roe or Casey could be substantially altered by the Supreme Court in the coming months.