Judge Amy Coney Barrett, once unknown to anyone outside of South Bend, Indiana, has recently captured the attention of the American people. As a nominee to Supreme Court of the United States, she has faced hours of questioning from U.S. senators during her confirmation hearings. Throughout the intense process her calm demeanor, posture, eloquence, and grace have certainly left a mark on many and have elicited the respect of persons across the political spectrum. Aside from her stated convictions to be a justice of character, humility, and sound reason, Judge Barrett is perhaps most notable for the counter-cultural “both-and” statements she embodies: a working professional and a mother; a lawyer and professor and the matriarch of a large family.
Yes, Judge Barrett is widely respected for her intellect, her abilities as a lawyer and judge, her scholarship since her early adult years, and her ability to hold her own (and then some) while being the center of negative attention from politicians who oppose her nomination to the highest seat of honor and respect that the United States has to offer law scholars and practitioners. However, Judge Barrett is also a mother to seven children—two of whom are adopted and one of whom has special needs. With all of her accomplishments and esteem, Judge Barrett is the first to draw the attention of others not to herself but to her family, going so far to state that her children are where she has the most impact on bringing goodness and change into the world.
Judge Barrett’s life exemplifies a profound affirmation of family life and the goodness of children, standing in stark contrast to modern culture. Recently, American celebrity culture has publicly applauded successful women who have been outspoken about aborting their children for the sake of their professional dreams and career goals, leaving in their wake many young women wondering how they will choose between their personal hopes and dreams and becoming mothers. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a living testament to the contrary, stating: you can do both. You can chase your dreams and raise a family. You don’t have to choose between the two. The current culture often pigeonholes expectant mothers into making such a choice between their own life and their child’s, telling women that if they continue with their pregnancies, they might as well kiss goodbye any goals or dreams they had for themselves. In reality, such a choice does not have to be made, and Judge Barrett’s own life, which is brimming with professional accomplishments and seven children, is a witness to this.
No expectant mother should ever feel that she has to ‘choose between’ her own life and the life of her unborn child. Any organization or individual who puts a woman in a position in which she feels that the interests of herself and her child are pitted against one another is ultimately failing women, rather than empowering them. Ironically, pro-choice supporters and organizations claim to embody female empowerment, but what is less empowering than telling a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy that she doesn’t have the financial means to care for a child, could never get or finish her education, or be able to be both a mother and a successful professional (essentially, “you can’t do this”)? Denying that women can be both mothers and accomplished professionals is a denial of the inherent strength that women have and does a disservice to women everywhere.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett is certainly someone women can look to for inspiration and hope that they can have lives in which both children and professional opportunities are present. However, many women who still desire to ‘choose both’ lack the resources that Judge Barrett clearly had, and it would be naïve to discuss this topic without acknowledging that many women lack the family, financial, emotional, and material support they need in order to be truly free to choose life for both themselves and their unborn children. Options United exists to bridge this gap by connecting expectant mothers facing unplanned pregnancies to the life-saving resources they need—at no cost to the mother. By connecting expectant mothers with local pregnancy resource centers, where professionals and volunteers walk with each client throughout her pregnancy, Options United provides women with the support they need to be able choose both their own lives and their children’s.