Barrett’s Adoption Question Causes Ongoing Firestorm in the Media

The firestorm over Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s question on adoption during Wednesday’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization continues to rage in the media. For example, in the New York Times, Democratic strategist Elizabeth Spiers wrote a piece that paraphrased the question as “Why was abortion necessary, when women who do not want to be mothers can simply give their babies up for adoption?” That is not what Barrett was asking in the oral argument but it did not matter to the New York Times any more than it mattered to the Washington Post to run a clearly erroneous column on originalist support for abortion.

The exchange with Julie Rikelman, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, concerned the list of burdens imposed by the law, including the raising of a child. Barrett was asking whether that is a burden that should be thrown into the balance when women are not forced to raise children and can put them up for adoption anonymously under safe haven laws.

“Insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which forced parenting, forced motherhood, would hinder women’s access to the workplace and to equal opportunities, it’s also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy,. Why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem? It seems to me that it focuses the burden much more narrowly.”

That is not saying that, since adoption is available, a woman is not facing significant burdens. To the contrary, Barrett prefaced her remarks by saying barring abortion would entail “an infringement on bodily autonomy.”  However, pro-choice advocates made specific use of the burden of raising a child in their arguments. Barrett was simply asking why such a burden should be assumed when a mother elects to raise a child rather than put the child up for adoption.

In response, some newspapers ran stories about the pain of giving up children for adoption. That however is not a refutation of Barrett’s point.  That certainly captures the cost and trauma faced by mothers. However, that does not answer the question of whether, if you are claiming the burden of raising a child, the court should consider the decision not to use adoption to avoid that burden.

As for Spiers, she wrote:

“As an adoptee myself, I was floored by Justice Barrett’s assumption that adoption is an accessible and desirable alternative for women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. She may not realize it, but what she is suggesting is that women don’t need access to abortion because they can simply go do a thing that is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous and potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages.” (Twitter)

I do not understand why Spiers would assume that Barrett has no idea of (or was dismissing) a woman’s difficulty of making such a decision.  Barrett has both biological and adopted children. Indeed, many of us were appalled when Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi described her for adopting two Haitian children as virtual body snatching by a “white colonizer.”

Barrett was asking about the burden claims expressly made by the challengers to the Mississippi law. That is her job to define what are the countervailing interests and burdens of the parties. There will likely be ample disagreement with the various opinions that come from Dobbs, but the hair-trigger criticism over this question is, in my view, unwarranted.

104 thoughts on “Barrett’s Adoption Question Causes Ongoing Firestorm in the Media”

  1. It’s natural to give birth. Nature is the standard, right? If it happens in nature, it must be right, right?

  2. Let’s discuss the argument that certain abortion restrictions force a woman to give birth.

    Actually, biology dictates that once a woman reaches the 2nd trimester, the pregnancy will end in birth. A 2nd trimester abortion requires cervical dilation. The abortionist reaches in blind and twists off parts of the fetus. The woman gives birth to the baby in pieces during a highly invasive procedure. A 3rd trimester abortion requires a lethal injection to the fetus, which is delivered as a stillborn. 2nd trimester abortions and later carry significantly higher risks to the mother than 1st trimester.

    After enough times goes by, a pregnant woman cannot escape childbirth. A first trimester abortion is the only means of which I know that will prevent birth. Later abortions require labor/dilation and delivery. She’s going to give birth either way. The purpose of a 2nd trimester and later abortion is to kill the fetus, not prevent childbirth.

    1. “certain abortion restrictions force a woman to” carry a fetus to term.

      Try blaming that one on nature.

  3. No matter how much you try to run away from tyranny, it has a way of finding you. Colonists came to America to get away
    from British tyranny, and yet it followed them here. Maybe we can colonize Mars and see how long before tyranny follows us there.

    1. America’s ostensible “leaders” hide in shame of phantom guilt, and acquiesce as milquetoast cowards in comfortable military headquarters, capitol buildings, talk radio and television studios, etc., making fortunes standing down, paid by the global communist Deep Deep State.

      Where would America be if George Washington et al. were this mortally fainthearted?

      “[We gave you] a [restricted-vote/infinitesimal government] republic, if you can keep it.”

      – Ben Franklin

      But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

      – Declaration of Independence, 1776

      2nd Amendment

      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  4. Ms. Spiers actually said this?


    She may not realize it, but what she is suggesting is that women don’t need access to abortion because they can simply go do a thing that is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous and potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages.”

    Placing a child for adoption is infinitely more difficult…..more expensive…..more dangerous….and potentially more traumatic than terminating a pregnancy……I sure wish Ms. Spiers would explain her basis for that loony comment.

    There are couples that cannot have conceive children of their own who would challenge that whole statement and do so every day when one considers the waiting list for adoptable children.

    If Ms Speirs means she was adopted as a child….she best get down on her knees and praise on high her Mother did not have her aborted.

    I attended a Lady Friend Mom’s funeral….her Mother by adoption.

    In the Eulogy she stated the thing she. most loved her Momma for was that “Of all the Kids in the Orphanage….she picked Me!”.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Also, the expense is normally paid by the adoptive parents and/or DCF.

    2. Going through with a pregnancy and then putting the child up for adoption is more dangerous and more expensive. If you take out the “and then putting the child up for adoption it’s still a true statement. The cost and danger are not directed at the adoption part.

      Simply put, carrying a child to term is usually far more expensive and more dangerous than having an abortion. There may be some exceptions, but for most women this is the case. I know there are some sources claiming that abortion is more dangerous, but that is not true. The facts do not bear it out. Abortion is dangerous for women only when it is illegal and pregnant women take extreme measures.

      1. but whether or not carrying a child to term is more expensive or more dangerous has nothing to do with the law. Being pregnant is the responsibility of the person NOT the law. Just because abortion is cheaper, easier maybe more desirable because of a host of reasons doesn’t make it right. It would be easier on society if all old people in nursing homes were not there. They would not be a drain on social security or medicare. It would free up medical care workers for hospitals etc. But killing the old people is NOT the answer, just as killing the inconvenient babies is not the answer.

        If you don’t want to be pregnant, monitor your own behavior and either behave in a way that prevents that or take precautions that prevent that. Abortion is being used as birth control. KILLING to solve convenience issues or make after the fact less dangerous is not acceptable.

        Someone needs to LOOK for where in the constitution it gives the right to abortion. Anyone know? Regardless of what you think of abortion, where is that right written in the Constitution?

        1. “Someone needs to LOOK for where in the constitution it gives the right to abortion.”

          Or the right to eat, sleep, drink, . . .

  5. Democrats are terrified that abortion issue could be decided by the American people through the democratic process. They will do anything to keep that from happening. Anything.

    1. Check out polls gaging Americans views on abortion restrictions. If the question of abortion were put to a vote nationally it would most definitely be legal in a way similar to Roe. Even in the “red” states that enact abortion restrictions, it’s not at all clear those restrictions would be upheld.

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