Fact check: False claim about 'domestic supply of infants' and draft Supreme Court abortion opinion

·5 min read

The claim: Leaked draft Supreme Court abortion opinion argues for reversal of Roe v. Wade due to need for 'domestic supply of infants'

After the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe vs. Wade, concerns about abortion rights have sparked debate nationwide. Some social media users are highlighting a particular turn of phrase in the draft.

"Alito and Coney-Barrett say women should be forced against their will to give birth because there always must be a 'domestic supply of infants' to be sold off," reads a Facebook post shared May 7. "Domestic supply of infants. That's a literal phrase they used in the leaked opinion."

The post generated over 400 interactions in less than a week. Similar posts have amassed thousands of interactions on Facebook and Instagram.

But the claim is false.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the leaked draft majority opinion. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not write it. The reference to a "domestic supply of infants" was also never presented as an argument in the draft. It appears in the draft in a footnote citing a statistic from a 2008 CDC report.

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USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Abortion-rights demonstrators have a heated discussion with two anti-abortion protesters, Saturday, May 14, 2022, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Abortion-rights demonstrators have a heated discussion with two anti-abortion protesters, Saturday, May 14, 2022, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

'Domestic supply of infants' phrase came from 2008 CDC report

Barrett joined Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in voting with Alito during a post-argument conference to form a majority in support of overturning Roe vs. Wade, according to Politico, citing a "person familiar with the court’s deliberations."

It was Alito who wrote the draft.  And, Alito never said the U.S. needs a domestic supply of infants in the leaked draft opinion.

On page 34 of the draft, Alito highlights arguments from Americans “who believe abortion should be restricted.” One of these arguments has to do with safe haven laws, which “generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously,” according to the draft.

"A woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home," Alito writes. That statement is accompanied by a footnote quoting a statistic in a 2008 CDC report about adoption in 2002.

The report states that adoption is governed "by the number of children available for adoption (supply) and the number of individuals and couples seeking children to adopt (demand)." Societal changes, such as decline in teen birth rate and women choosing to raise babies, have reduced the number of children placed in adoption.

The report notes that "nearly 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 statistic is cited in the footnote in the draft in relation to arguments about safe haven laws and adoption made by people who oppose abortion which Alito references. USA TODAY found no evidence Alito presented "'the domestic supply of infants'" issue as an argument itself for why Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

USA TODAY reached out to the Supreme Court for comment.

The case Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization, involves a challenge to a 2018 Mississippi law that "prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, except for in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality," according to the Legal Information Institue at Cornell Law School .

The law directly conflicts with the legal framework for regulating abortion set forth by the high court. A 7-2 majority concluded in Roe that women have the right to an abortion during the first and second trimesters but that states could impose restrictions in the second trimester. Years later, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court allowed states to ban most abortions at viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb – roughly 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Jackson Women's Health Organization, an abortion clinic in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion says Roe v. Wade should be overturned because there needs to be a "domestic supply of infants." The "domestic supply of infants" reference comes from a statistic in a 2008 CDC report that was cited in a footnote in the draft opinion. The phrase came up in the context of Alito pointing to arguments about safe haven laws and adoption made by people who oppose abortion.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim about 'domestic supply of infants' in leaked opinion