Not Real News

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation on April 4 in Simi Valley, Calif. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming Barrett cited a need for a “domestic supply of infants” in a leaked draft opinion for a decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. 

CLAIM: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett cited a need for a “domestic supply of infants” in a leaked draft opinion for a decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

THE FACTS: The draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, and the term appears in a footnote quoting a 2008 document about adoption data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following the leak in early May of Alito’s draft opinion — signaling that the court may be about to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling on abortion — social media users and bloggers seized on its inclusion of the term “domestic supply of infants.” Many correctly attributed the phrase to a footnote quoting the CDC on the document’s 33rd page, and have noted that it appears in a section that echoes remarks made by Barrett during December arguments in the case, which is challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

But others are falsely conflating the two.

“BREAKING: In a brief re abortion, Supreme court Justices Amy Coney Barrett/Alito’s Draft, said US needs a ‘domestic supply of infants’ to meet needs of parents seeking to adopt — that those who would otherwise abort must be made to carry to term — giving children up for adoption,” reads one post with more than 35,000 retweets on Twitter and also spread widely as a screenshot on Facebook.

“Justice Amy Coney Barrett Wants To Overturn Roe To Create A ‘Domestic Supply Of Infants’ For Adoption,” said a headline on a widely-shared blog post, although the post itself never actually mentions Barrett.

The opinion, which was published by Politico on May 2 and later confirmed as authentic by the court, states that it is a first draft penned by Alito and circulated to other justices in February. In one portion of the draft, Alito outlines “arguments about modern developments” he says are used by Americans who believe abortion should be restricted. Among others, he lists “that States have increasingly adopted safe haven laws, which generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously; and that a woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home.” The last sentence cites a footnote, which quotes a 2008 CDC report about the demand for adoption in the U.S., reading: “(N)early 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand for a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent.”

This is the only use of the term “domestic supply of infants” in the opinion. Alito does not mention Barrett, but several articles about the draft opinion have noted that his mention of safe-haven laws is similar to a comment she made during the case in December, when she suggested such laws mean pregnant people can’t be forced into parenthood.

“Why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem?” asked Barrett, who has long expressed personal opposition to abortion. She noted the pregnancy would still be “an infringement on bodily autonomy,” but added, “it seems to me that the choice more focused would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion,” according to a transcript. It remains unclear if the draft will reflect the court’s final decision and opinion. The Supreme Court’s public information office did not return a request for comment on the false claims.