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An Indiana group whose anti-abortion campaign was endorsed in a signed advertisement by Amy Coney Barrett before she became a supreme court justice, keeps a published list of abortion providers and their place of work on its website, in what some experts say is an invitation to harass and intimidate the doctors and their staff.
In one case, court records show, a doctor whose name was published by the group, which is called Right to Life Michiana, was warned by the FBI of a kidnapping threat that had been made online against her daughter.
The threat prompted the doctor to temporarily stop providing abortion services at the Whole Woman’s Health Care clinic in South Bend, which is also named on the Michiana group’s website. The doctor said in the court document that the clinic regularly attracts large gatherings of protesters, who she feared could identify her.
Barrett signed a two-page advertisement in 2006, while she was working as a professor at Notre Dame, that stated that those who signed “oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death”. The second page of the ad called Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, “barbaric”.
The advertisement, which was published in the South Bend Tribune and signed by hundreds of people, was sponsored by a group called St Joseph County Right to Life, which merged with another anti-abortion group in 2020 and is now called Right to Life Michiana.
The supreme court is expected to rule this year on challenges to Roe v Wade that many court experts expect will gut the rights of women in the US to obtain legal abortions. In arguments before the court, Barrett – who has said her personal views do not affect her legal judgment – argued that passage of safe haven laws, which allow parents to relinquish their newborns at hospitals or other designated centers without the threat of legal consequences, had in effect given women options outside of abortion for those who did not want to become parents.
During her 2020 confirmation hearing, Barrett said she had signed the advertisement as a private citizen, while she was making her way out of church, and had not recalled signing it until it became public following a report in the Guardian.
“It was consistent with the views of my church,” she said, in response to senators’ questions about the statement. She later added: “I do see as distinct my personal, moral, religious views and my task of applying the law as a judge.”