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Amy Coney Barrett may threaten access to IVF if appointed to the US Supreme Court

Michaela Chen

Progress Educational Trust

19 October 2020

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[BioNews, London]

The presumed appointment of Federal Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court has caused concern among the IVF and fertility communities. 

Fertility doctors, infertility advocates and parents who have relied on reproductive technologies, are opposing Barrett's likely confirmation because of her support for an organisation that seeks to criminalise IVF.

Leading fertility doctors signed a statement in Fertility and Sterility – the first time in the journal's 70-year history it has commented on a Supreme Court Justice's confirmation: 'Our distress in the spectre of Barrett's future repeal of legislature surrounding reproductive choice derives from her public record of elevating her own personal beliefs regarding human reproduction over science, a devastating threat to women's liberty and reproductive choice' they said. 

The confirmation hearings began on 13 October and will likely provide Barrett with a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the US. While the nomination process is subject to a vote, her confirmation is virtually certain due to Republican support and a majority in the US Senate. 

During the hearings, Barrett declined to answer key questions on reproductive health, including whether she 'views the criminalising of IVF as constitutional'. In doing so she followed a common practice of her predecessor nominees by citing judicial ethics rules that nominees should not give an opinion on an issue that may come before them. 

Barratt's silence has amplified concerns about her personal beliefs, including her public support and signature on an advert in 2006 for St Joseph County Right to Life who demand criminal penalties for doctors who 'discard embryos as part of IVF treatments', to 'defend the right to life from fertilisation to natural death'. 

During the hearings, Barrett said it would be 'inappropriate' to comment as a public official on her personal views, but clarified she signed the 2006 statement in a 'personal capacity'. 

Democratic senators have also spoken out, including Senator Tammy Duckworth who described Barrett as 'someone who "appears to believe that my daughters shouldn't even exist"' in a letter to her colleagues. Duckworth – the first senator to give birth while in office – described the importance of IVF to her family, specifically its key role in conceiving her daughters.


For the Supreme Court: choose another
Fertility and Sterility |  12 October 2020
The Latest: Day 2 of Barrett confirmation hearings wraps
abc News |  14 October 2020
Top fertility doctors oppose Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, warning it could threaten access to IVF, contraception, and abortion
Business Insider |  14 October 2020
Where Amy Coney Barrett stands on IVF
Glamour |  14 October 2020

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 19 October 2020   Date Updated: 19 October 2020
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