Reporting on today’s Supreme Court oral arguments in Dobbs, the Daily Beast asserts that Justice Amy Coney Barrett had “indicated she might not be inclined to protect a woman’s right to an abortion, suggesting it wasn’t necessary thanks to the option to give a child up for adoption.” (The headline of the piece is, incidentally, “Amy Coney Barrett Suggests Forced Pregnancy Is Fine Because of Adoption.”)
No such thing happened. The exchange in question took place near the end of argument, when U.S. solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar, arguing against Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, was taking questions from the justices.
Barrett raised a question that she also had put to Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Julie Rikelman, about safe-haven laws, which shield women from prosecution if they surrender an unwanted child to a safe haven.
Barrett’s question was designed not to advocate adoption as an abortion alternative but rather to force Prelogar to get to the heart of what principle makes the right to abortion so essential. She was asking, in other words, whether the supposed burden of parenthood is diminished by safe-haven laws. If the aim of abortion supporters is to enable women to choose not to be a parent, why are safe-haven laws not good enough? Why must the government also sanction abortion?
Prelogar’s response was, in effect, that both continuing pregnancy and giving up a child for adoption still put too much of a burden on women, and thus abortion needs to remain an option in order for women to have a real choice and real freedom. The right to abortion, in other words, is essential not so that women don’t have to parent or can end pregnancy (which can be done without aborting the child) but so that they can affirmatively do away with an unwanted child.
It was a revealing exchange — but it certainly didn’t reveal that Barrett is poised to overturn Roe because she thinks adoption makes abortion unnecessary, as the Daily Beast suggests.
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