Senate Republicans will vote this week to confirm a lifetime federal judge who claimed that fertility treatments and surrogacy have “grave effects on society, including diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond; exploitation of women; commodification of gestation and of children themselves; and weakening of appropriate social mores against eugenic abortion.”
Sarah Pitlyk, President Donald Trump’s nominee to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, argued those points in a 2017 amicus brief opposing a California statute that protects the right to assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and gestational surrogacy.
Pitlyk, who is special counsel to the Thomas More Society, a conservative, anti-abortion law firm based in Chicago, went on to say in a 2017 interview with the National Catholic Register that “surrogacy is harmful to mothers and children, so it’s a practice society should not be enforcing.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has teed up Pitlyk’s confirmation vote for Wednesday or Thursday.
Nearly 1 in 6 U.S. couples face infertility, according to a 2014 National Institutes of Health study. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is among them. She wrote to all 99 of her Senate colleagues last month urging them to oppose Pitlyk over her “deeply insulting” views on fertility treatment.
“As a mother who struggled with infertility for years and required IVF to start my family, I would be one of the many Americans who could never enter Ms. Pitlyk’s courtroom with any reasonable expectation that my case would be adjudicated in a fair and impartial manner,” said Duckworth.
“I could not trust that Ms. Pitlyk’s opinions were based on facts and circumstances, rather than reflecting her personal beliefs,” the senator continued. “Not after Ms. Pitlyk cruelly implied in an amicus brief she proudly submitted to the Supreme Court that children conceived with the help of [assisted reproductive technology] are inferior. Not after Ms. Pitlyk accused families who opt for surrogacy of contributing to ‘grave effects on society,’ including disrespecting motherhood.”
“A lifetime appointment to the Federal Bench is a privilege, not a right. Ms. Pitlyk’s own words should disqualify her from securing such an honor,” added Duckworth. “Please join me in opposing Sarah Pitlyk’s confirmation.”