US Supreme Court hopeful Amy Coney Barrett has faced questioning over her position on abortion.
A devout Catholic, Barrett was asked during the course of her confirmation hearing about her signing of a newspaper ad which opposed "abortion on demand" and supported "the right to life from fertilization to natural death".
Barrett told the senate judiciary committee that she signed the ad — which was sponsored by the St. Joseph County Right to Life, Indiana — while walking out of church with her family.
She explained: "At the back of church there was a table set up for people on their way out of mass to sign a statement validating their commitment to the position of the Catholic church on life issues.
"The statement that I signed, it was affirming the protection of life from conception to natural death.”
During her time as a professor at the acclaimed Catholic university Notre Dame, Barrett signed her name to an official statement which pledged support for the institution's "commitment to the right to life".
The two documents, Barrett said, were “statements of my personal beliefs".
“Notre Dame is a Catholic university and embraces the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion,” she added. “And so as a faculty member and member of the university Faculty for Life, I signed that statement.”
When Barrett was quizzed as to whether her support of the statement has implications for her position on the constitutional protection for the right to obtain an abortion, which was affirmed in the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling, she replied: “I think that statement is an affirmation of life. It points out that we express our love and support for the mothers who bear them.
"Again, it was a statement validating the position of the Catholic university, at which I worked, in support for life and to support women in crisis pregnancies to support babies, so it's really no more than the expression of a pro-life view.”
A vote on Judge Barrett's confirmation is set to take place next week. If confirmed, she could take her seat on the Supreme Court prior to the US presidential election, which is to be held on 3 November.