Exploring Human Potential

Justice Amy Coney Barrett Has a Mortal Sin On Her Conscience.

Posted on | May 8, 2024 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Catholic and conservative, likely found this week’s Health Affairs article on violence toward women in Red states where abortion was banned uncomfortable reading. Its authors state that the “rapidly increasing passage of state legislation has restricted or banned access to abortion care” and has triggered an increase in “intimate partner violence” in girls 10 to 44. Authors were able to document  that each targeted action to restrict access to abortion providers delivered a 3.4% rise in violence against these pregnant girls and women.

It is not as if the Supreme Court judges weren’t warned that their ruling would immediately trigger reactivation of century old laws designed to reinforce second class citizenship of women. Nor were they unaware that red state captive legislatures would likely go “fast and furious” in pursuit of fetal “personhood” regardless of the potential loss of life and limb to the mothers. And yet, faced with radical evangelical leaders directed attacks on IVF, even conservative justices (excepting Clarence Thomas) seemed genuinely surprised.

For experts in maternal-fetal health, the findings come as no surprise. A landmark study in the BMC Medicine in 2014 found that up to 22% of women seeking abortion were the victims of intimate partner violence. The study concluded that “Policies restricting abortion provision may result in more women being unable to terminate unwanted pregnancies, potentially keeping them in contact with violent partners, and putting women and their children at risk.”

It is not as if “Intimate Partner Violence” is uncommon in the U.S. A New England Journal of Medicine article, published four months after the Dobbs decision was handed down, documented that “Overall, one in three women in the United States experiences contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner (or a combination of these) at some point, with higher rates among women in historically marginalized racial or ethnic groups.” 

That data was available on government websites well before the Justices announced the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022. Red states already possessed unfavorable demographics when it came to violence against women. Liberal policies toward guns, combined with sub-standard safety nets in this states, have created a toxic health environment for young women.  As data supports, “Most vulnerable in this new legal landscape will be people who have limited access to resources and services and inadequate protection against violence, especially those living in overburdened communities — primarily young, low-income women from historically marginalized racial or ethnic groups…The majority of Intimate Partner Violence related homicides involve firearms.” 

One must wonder whether Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the only conservative woman on the Court, second guessed herself when she read the November article predictions of the fallout of Dobbs. It read, “Legal restrictions on reproductive health care and access to abortion will leave people more vulnerable to control by their abusers. Policies permitting easier access to firearms, including the ability to carry guns in public, will further jeopardize survivors’ safety.”

With Justice Barrett’s support, the Supreme Court had voted on two successive days in favor of less restricted access to guns, and more restricted access to abortion. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, decided one day before the Dobbs case, Barrett and conservatives struck down New York’s requirement that its citizens declare a “special need for self-defense” to carry a handgun outside the home. Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent the following day, made clear the carnage that lay ahead. He cited the fact that “women are five times as likely to be killed by an intimate partner if the partner has access to a gun.”

If Justice Barrett is unable to somehow make this right in the future, she will be left (as we Catholics like to say) to carry this sin on her conscience. And to be clear, for the women of America, this sin is “mortal” not “venial.” Stipulations for a “mortal sin”, according to the Catholic religion are:

1. “Serious or grave matter. This often means that the action is clearly evil or severely disordered.”

2. “Sufficient knowledge or reflection. This means we know we are committing a sinful act and that we have had sufficient reflection for it to be intentional.”

3. “Full consent of the will. This means that we must freely choose to commit a grave sin in order for it to be a mortal sin.”


2 Responses to “Justice Amy Coney Barrett Has a Mortal Sin On Her Conscience.”

  1. Brenda Conn
    May 9th, 2024 @ 9:16 am

    Right on! Great article!

  2. Mike Magee
    May 9th, 2024 @ 10:22 am

    Thanks, Brenda!

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