#VOTEPROCHOICE CEO Heidi Sieck: Amy Coney Barrett does not belong on the Supreme Court – here's why

Vote on Amy Coney Barrett nomination set for Oct. 22

The Senate Judiciary Committee set to vote on nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 22.

Just a little over 1 month ago and mere hours after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. announced that he would hold hearings and a vote to confirm her replacement, even though voting had already started in the general election. 

This decision ignored the precedent set in March of 2016 when Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination did not even receive a hearing after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13 and McConnell himself said that voters should decide who fills the vacancy during an election year.

Now, with more than 17 million ballots cast during early voting, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already completed its confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, and set a date for a vote. 

Most Americans want the winner of the November election to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice, but President Trump has rushed this process with clear intentions: Overturn Roe vs Wade, cut health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions (including COVID-19 survivors), and confirm a ninth Justice so that he can challenge the 2020 election results in court. 

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Since the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, both President Trump and the Republican leadership have ignored concerns that she would overturn Roe, dismantle the ACA, and harm the LGBTQ community. But when we examine our recent past, and the effects that SCOTUS appointments have on our fundamental freedoms, those concerns become even more reasonable. 

After Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed two years ago, a flurry of laws restricting reproductive freedom rushed out of both state legislatures and the federal government. 2019 saw state legislatures pass the most restrictive, knowingly unconstitutional abortion bans since the 1970s, with the direct intention of inciting litigation that would bring Roe vs Wade before the Supreme Court. 

Just this year, the Court blocked access to birth control by allowing business owners to deny coverage for its employees, even though insurance coverage of birth control would not actually cost the employer more. This ruling leaves contraception financially out of reach for millions of people across the country.

Coming out of last week’s hearings, we know how Judge Barrett feels about reproductive freedom — academically, personally, and as a sitting judge. Not only has Judge Barrett said that abortion is “immoral” under any circumstances — including instances of rape or inviable pregnancies — but she has also ruled to limit or push access to abortion care completely out of reach on more than one occasion.

She has also voiced support for organizations that believe fertility doctors who perform critical treatments like IVF should be prosecuted.

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During Senator Feinstein's questioning, Judge Barrett strategically and intentionally refused to respond to questions on Roe. Instead, she pivoted to the 1992 Casey v Planned Parenthood case, allowing her to skirt the question and hide her intentions.

These side-steps also gave a direct signal to the anti-choice base that she’s most open to overturning the “undue burden” requirements established by Casey as a means to weaken the rights established by Roe. Judge Barrett made it clear: her preferred tactic in banning abortion is to encourage conservative lawmakers to intensify their efforts to chip away at access to reproductive health care by passing laws that close clinics and threaten providers.

Pushing to eliminate reproductive freedom, despite its overwhelming support, is to ignore the will of the people and the reality of people’s lives. Government control does not belong in these private moments. Most importantly, weakening or overturning Roe and limiting access to birth control certainly won’t stop abortions from happening – it will just make them unsafe and dangerous.

Let’s not forget that the core tenet of Roe v Wade is the right to privacy. Outlawing the right to choose means that without Roe v. Wade, pregnant people and trained medical professionals will be subject to intense scrutiny and criminal investigation by law enforcement.

For example, if the six-week abortion ban proposed in Georgia had been enacted, accidental miscarriages could be considered second-degree murder, punishable with up to 30 years in prison.

This is an extreme overreach by the government into medical protocols and deeply personal decisions — often in the most vulnerable and sometimes traumatic moments in families’ lives. Politicians have no place in these private family matters.

Health care access is foundational to all of this — from birth control to maternal mortality, fertility treatments to abortion access. Especially during a global pandemic when COVID-19 survivors can be considered patients with pre-existing conditions, we need our government to focus on providing more access to health care, rather than rolling back our freedoms. 

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Personal health and family decisions should not require the permission of a governor, president, or any other politician, and it is unacceptable to threaten pregnant people with jail-time if their pregnancy ends. We each deserve the right to decide if, when and how we grow our families.

In the words of 2016 Mitch McConnell, “Let the people decide.”

 

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