Barrett, who met with 10 Republican senators at the Capitol on Thursday, likely will face questions at her confirmation hearings later this month about whether her personal beliefs will influence her legal rulings.
The White House, while not commenting directly on the ad, said Thursday that the president would never ask a judge to prejudge a case. Trump, who tapped Barrett last Saturday to replace Ginsburg, is pressing the Senate to confirm the nominee before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Barrett was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., when she attached her name to the ad placed by the St. Joseph County Right to Life group, of which Barrett and her husband, both Catholic, were members.
“We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to the end of natural life,” read the ad in the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune. “Please continue to pray to end abortion.”
The two-page ad ran on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“It’s time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children,” the ad said.
Barrett did not disclose that she signed the ad to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which asks nominees to list any “published material you have written or edited, including material published only on the Internet, regardless of whether it was published in your name, another name or anonymously.”
The existence of the ad was first reported by the Guardian.
A Democratic aide, with knowledge of the process, said the ad should have been included in her questionnaire that she submitted to the committee Tuesday. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the process.
During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Trump denied that abortion rights were on the ballot this November, and claimed not to know Barrett’s view on the issue even though he’s previously assured conservatives that he would nominate justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, responding to a question about this discrepancy, said Thursday, “the president has been clear that he would never ask a judge to prejudge a case.”
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett has on multiple occasions said it is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law,” McEnany said.
The beliefs of the St. Joseph County Right to Life members go further than some antiabortion groups. In their view, discarding unused embryos from in vitro fertilization was akin to abortion.
Jackie Appleman, the executive director of St Joseph County Right to Life, told the Guardian that the group not only supports the criminalization of doctors who perform abortions, but also making it illegal to throw away frozen embryos.
While it’s unclear if Barrett holds these same views, her opposition to abortion is well-documented in her writings and speeches in academia. As a Notre Dame professor, she was a member of Faculty for Life, which promotes writings that “respect the value of human life from conception to natural death.”
Since becoming a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she has joined some opinions that took the antiabortion position, including one in which she supported a rehearing of a case that overturned an Indiana law requiring anyone under 18 years old to notify their parents before getting an abortion.
Abortion rights advocates also point to writings by Barrett in which she suggests an openness to overturning Roe.
“If anything, the public response to controversial cases like Roe reflects public rejection of the proposition that stare decisis can declare a permanent victor in a divisive constitutional struggle rather than desire that precedent remain forever unchanging,” Barrett wrote, referring to the legal doctrine that courts follow historical precedent.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider Barrett’s nomination, said Barrett has been an “outspoken critic of a woman’s right to choose,” and warned that she would undermine abortion rights.
“She has said as a judge, she would ignore precedent if it conflicted with her interpretation of the Constitution,” Feinstein said. “Those statements, coupled with her record on the 7th Circuit, raise serious concerns about whether she would uphold the law.”
About two-thirds of Americans support keeping Roe v. Wade in place while 29 percent favor overturning it, according to a CBS News poll published in June. Democrats — and, by a large margin, women — are more likely than Republicans and men to say abortion is an important factor in their 2020 vote for president, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Embracing the complete reversal of Roe v. Wade is politically difficult, even for some antiabortion Republicans, given the wide public support for the 50-year-old decision.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is in a tough reelection battle, said during a recent debate, “I think the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned is very minimal. I don’t see that happening.”
But even if the justices don’t address Roe directly, abortion rights advocates warn that the Supreme Court may take up other pending cases that wouldn’t directly challenge the constitutionality of Roe, but could impose restrictions on abortions that would limit access for many women.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who has said his support for a Supreme Court justice is contingent on their belief that Roe was “wrongly decided,” met with Barrett on Thursday, but skirted questions about whether they discussed Roe.
“I think she’s been very clear, I think, on her views on Roe,” Hawley said. “How she will vote in the future on Roe, I don’t know. I don’t know how it will come up for her. I can’t ask her that.”
Asked whether he’ll seek assurance from her under oath when she testifies that she believes it was wrongly decided, Hawley said he had wanted to “see record evidence before the nomination. And we have that.”