Amy Coney Barrett’s threat to women’s rights

Confirmation of Barrett steps towards “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Audrey Rhoadarmer, Staff Writer

Illustration by Micky Flores-Nieves

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court on October 26th, only eight days before the presidential election. Barrett was a law professor at Notre Dame University for fifteen years before she became an appellate court judge in 2017.

She now fills the empty seat left behind by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a champion of women’s rights. Barrett is quite the opposite.

In 2013, during a lecture about Roe v. Wade, Barrett stated that she believes life begins at conception and criticized Roe for “igniting a national controversy.”

While working as a professor at Notre Dame, she was a member of the University Faculty for Life, a group that, according to their website, respects “the sacred value of human life from its inception to natural death.”

She is also a member of People of Praise, a religious group that is strongly against abortion.

All of this evidence points to Barrett being pro-life, or in other words, anti-choice.

With a 6-3 conservative majority, the court now has the ability to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 court case that made it legal for women to receive abortions in the United States.

Norma McCorvey, known as Jane Roe, appealed the case and argued that the government was infringing upon her personal privacy given to her in the 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments by not allowing her to receive an abortion.

If the court is able to overturn this law, who is to say how much further they will go when it comes to women’s privacy and their reproductive rights.

With the future of women’s rights coming into question, this is all starting to feel like the prologue to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Written by Margaret Atwood in 1985, “The Handmaid’s Tale” takes place in a dystopian future where a highly religious group known as the Sons of Jacob has taken over America and renamed it Gilead.

In this dystopian future, most women have become infertile, so the few fertile women who still exist are captured and forced to become handmaids for the commanders of the Sons of Jacob.

These handmaids are treated as objects only meant to unwillingly have others’ children.

Once a month during “the Ceremony” the commander who owns the handmaid will rape her in order to get her pregnant. But first, they read the Bible.

The Sons of Jacob base their entire ideology on the Bible and Christianity. They use it as an excuse to oppress women, to take away their bodily autonomy, under the guise of reaching their biological imperative: children.

Sound familiar?

This is not to say that Barrett’s nomination will single-handedly send us spiraling into the pages of Atwood’s novel, but it is the first step towards the removal of protection for women.

Barrett is also a long time critic of Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded access to birth control for countless women across the nation. In a constitutional commentary titled “Countering the Majoritarian Difficulty”, which was published in 2017, she stated that the ACA had been “pushed…beyond its plausible meaning,” and criticized two Supreme Court cases, King v. Burwell and NFIB v. Sebelius, that upheld ObamaCare.

Not only does Barrett not support access to abortion, but she also does not support access to affordable birth control.

Without insurance, a woman from a low-income family might not be able to afford birth control. Without access to birth control, she could become pregnant, and without access to an abortion, she will either have to carry the baby to term or look to far less safe methods of terminating her pregnancy.

If she chooses to keep the child, she still doesn’t have health insurance, and when her baby is born, they won’t either.

If the mother can’t afford birth control, how likely is it she can afford to raise a child?

Barrett’s beliefs create a paradox that traps women and turns their bodies into battlegrounds.

With Barrett on the bench, the Republican party will have an easier time stripping away women’s rights. Women will not be able to claim that it is men who are making decisions about their bodies, because now the right can use Barrett as an example, saying “this is what women want, too.”

But even women in power can oppress other women.

In Atwood’s novel, it is the Commander’s wives are often the harshest abusers of the handmaids. Now that Barrett sits on the Supreme Court, she may become the harshest abuser of women in America.