Fact Check: Did Alito and Barrett Claim That America Needs a ‘Domestic Supply of Infants’?
There are several errors in a viral tweet making that claim.
A viral tweet claims that Supreme Court Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Samuel Alito justified overturning Roe v. Wade in the leaked draft majority opinion because “the US needs a ‘domestic supply of infants.’”
In a reply to the tweet, the tweet author shared a screenshot from the opinion showing the line in question.
The draft was written by Alito, not Barrett and Alito as the tweet suggests. The section of the opinion from which the quote is pulled is a footnote, with the line not being written by Barrett or Alito, but coming from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paper on adoption. The line reads: “[N]early 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand of 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 paper is cited in a paragraph summing up arguments from pro-life Americans, specifically being cited in a sentence noting that a newborn put up for adoption in the United States will likely find a home. The footnote appears in the following section, following the italicized portion (italicization added):
“Americans who believe that abortion should be restricted press countervailing arguments about modern developments. They note that attitudes about the pregnancy of un-married women have changed drastically; that federal and state laws ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy,42 that leave for pregnancy and childbirth are now guaranteed by law in many cases,43 that the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy are covered by insurance or government assistance44; that States have increasingly adopted ‘safe haven’ laws, which generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously45; 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 home46.”
From the context of the footnote, it’s clear that the CDC quote appeared in the footnote only to highlight the fact that unwanted babies put up for adoption in the United States will likely find a family—not, as the tweet implies, that domestic birth rates need to increase to meet adoption demands. What’s more, the paragraph in which the footnote appears is about the arguments of pro-life Americans, taking place in a summary of the public debate surrounding abortion. Immediately preceding the above paragraph is another summing up the beliefs of pro-abortion Americans, which reads:
“Defenders of Roe and [Casey v. Planned Parenthood] do not claim that any new scientific learning calls for a different answer to the underlying moral question, but they do contend that changes in society require the recognition of a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Without the availability of abortion, they maintain, people will be inhibited from exercising their freedom to choose the types of relationships they desire, and women will be unable to compete with men in the workplace and in other endeavors.”
Following both summaries, the opinion continues:
“Both sides make important policy arguments, but supporters of Roe and Casey must show that this Court has the authority to weigh those arguments and decide how abortion may be regulated in the States. They have failed to make that showing, and we thus return the power to weigh those arguments to the people and their elected officials.”
If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email email@example.com.