While she hasn’t explicitly challenged the precedent established by Roe v. Wade in her capacity as a judge, Amy Coney Barrett — pegged by some as the odds-on favorite to be President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — has more than demonstrated her commitment to life in the way that she’s formed her family.
While serving as a judge on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has not questioned Roe’s overall precedent in two separate cases involving abortion. But her legal credentials and personal background — Barrett is a mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti and a biological son with Down syndrome — have drawn rave reviews from conservatives and pro-life activists.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that Barrett is “the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices.”
A Senate GOP aide said that “the consensus view” among Republicans is that Barrett “would be rock solid” on pro-life issues, according to Politico.
Further proof of Barrett’s strong pro-life credentials comes from the judge herself.
Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, a mentor of Barrett’s, told the Times that Barrett learned of her youngest’s diagnosis in prenatal testing, and chose to keep the pregnancy (the Times later added a correction noting that this was incorrect). And in an interview hosted last year by the Notre Dame alumni club of Washington, D.C., Barrett described how in 2009, she and her husband Jesse — despite having four kids at home already — were trying to adopt a second child from Haiti, a process that seemed destined for failure.
“It looked like it wasn’t going to happen, and then they told us it wasn’t going to happen — paperwork things had just gone south. And so mentally and emotionally, we had closed that door,” Barrett recalled. “ . . . It was right around December and I thought to myself, ‘we should just cut that paperwork, just pull it out and bring it to a close, because they told us that it’s not happening, so we might as well just not have that loose end hanging out there.’ But Christmas came and we didn’t do anything about it.”
After the horrific 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti in January 2010, however, the U.S. State Department eased some adoption requirements to expedite the process, and the Barretts’s case was allowed to proceed.
And as Jesse was figuring out how to pick up their new son in Florida, Barrett suddenly learned that she was pregnant — despite thinking at the time that “for a variety of reasons, we weren’t sure that would happen” — turning everything back on its head.
“We had an intense three-hour period where we had to decide were we going to go forward with going to get John Peter in Florida, because we discovered that Juliette was going to be coming that year too,” Barrett said, recalling the disbelief from adding one child to the family to suddenly having an additional one.
“I walked up to the cemetery on campus and I just sat down on one of the benches and I just thought ‘okay, well if life’s really hard, at least it’s short,’” Barrett recalled joking to herself. “But I thought, ‘what, what greater thing can you do than raise children? That’s where you have your greatest impact on the world.’”
Jesse Barrett ultimately went to Florida and brought home John Peter.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated with additional information.