Senate Democrats and their allies are attacking Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for saying the words “abortion-inducing drugs” at his confirmation hearing earlier this week. He used the phrase while discussing a case in which conscientious objectors sought an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
“Kavanaugh referred to birth control — something more than 95 percent of women use in their lifetime — as an ‘abortion-inducing drug,’ which is not just flat-out wrong, but is anti-woman, anti-science propaganda,” Dawn Laguens of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in a statement.
Democrats did not pounce on Kavanaugh’s comment at the hearing, but they did so on Twitter after their live questioning of Kavanaugh concluded.
Kavanaugh was chosen for the explicit purpose of putting government in charge of women’s bodies.
And his parroting of bogus right wing talking points – conflating birth control with “abortion inducing drugs” – is 100% confirmation of this.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT)
September 7, 2018
California senator Kamala Harris tweeted:
Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control. He was nominated for the purpose of taking away a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own health care decisions. Make no mistake – this is about punishing women. pic.twitter.com/zkBjXzIvQI
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris)
September 7, 2018
In the video Senator Harris tweeted out, Kavanaugh says: “Filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to.”
As others have already noted, the video is deceptively edited to start mid-sentence. What Kavanaugh actually said was: “It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case. But they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to.” [Emphasis added].
The “they said” in that sentence refers to the Catholic plaintiffs, Priests for Life. Kavanaugh was describing their views, not his own as a judge. And his description was accurate. So the attack on Kavanaugh is baseless—and deeply dishonest. Case closed.
But what about the Catholic plaintiffs in this case, Priests for Life? They objected to the contraceptive mandate because their “sincerely held beliefs prohibit them from providing, paying for, or impermissibly facilitating access to abortion-inducing products, contraceptives, and sterilization.” Are they unscientific fools for believing that some of the pills and devices mandated by the Obama administration act as “abortion-inducing products”? That’s what Planned Parenthood, Democratic senators, and the New York Times would have you believe.
In an article titled “Science Does Not Support Claims That Contraceptives Are ‘Abortion-Inducing’”, the New York Times reports: “The description ‘abortion-inducing’ is most often used by anti-abortion religious groups to characterize methods they believe can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” The Times informs readers “this belief does not comport with scientific evidence” because “the medical definition of pregnancy is that it begins after a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, not before.”
Now, let’s pause and think for a moment.
Conception is the moment a unique human being is created.
The plaintiffs in this case believe that human beings possess the right to life from the moment of conception. That is a moral, philosophical, and religious truth. “Science” and “medical definitions” cannot prove a human embryo has no moral worth until the embryo has implanted.
And what about the scientific belief that some “contraceptive” products not only prevent conception but may also cause the demise of a newly-conceived human being? “The other method of emergency contraception, the copper IUD, does appear to be able to block implantation of a fertilized egg, scientists say,” the Times reports.
So, the New York Times, science, and the Priests for Life all agree: At least one form of “emergency contraception” doesn’t merely act as contraception–it can cause the death of a human embryo.
And what about the various “morning-after pills”? Can they also cause the demise of a newly-conceived human being? Priests for Life filed their suit in February 2012. In June 2012, the New York Times reported: “Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their Web sites.” But an FDA spokeswoman told the Times in June 2012: “The emerging data on Plan B suggest that it does not inhibit implantation. Less is known about Ella. However, some data suggest it also does not inhibit implantation.”
As Jeffrey Anderson noted back in 2011, when the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate was imposed, some experts believed the “morning-after” pill Plan B does not act to cause the death of human embryos, but the case was stronger that the “week-after pill” Ella does so.
CBS News notes ella’s “
chemical similarity” to RU-486 (which will not be “free” under Obamacare). The New York Times describes it as being RU-486’s “
chemical relative.” The Washington Post describes it as being RU-486’s “
close chemical relative.”
WebMD says that it works to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg — in other words, as an abortifacient…. The European Medicine Agency acknowledges that the drug has the “ability to delay maturation of the endometrium likely resulting in prevention of implantation.”
Far from denying that ella can prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb, the FDA observes that it could potentially cause an abortion even later. It notes that there “are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women” pertaining to ella, while the drug has been found to cause abortions in pregnant rats and rabbits: “Embryofetal loss was noted in all pregnant rats and in half of the pregnant rabbits,” the FDA declared.
To this very day, here’s what PlannedParenthood.org says on its website about various morning-after pills: “The hormone also thins the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.”
Now, as Catholics, the Priests for Life did not solely object to “contraceptive” products they believed might act as abortifacients—following Catholic teaching, they also objected to sterilization and contraceptives. It was the 2014 Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in which evangelical Christians only objected to providing four contraceptives (out of the mandatory 20), which they believed might act as abortifacients. As you read Alito’s majority opinion, which Justice Kennedy joined, as well as Justice Ginsburg’s dissent, it is clear the case did not hinge on the science of how IUDs and “morning-after” pills work. Their sincerely-held religious beliefs were taken as a given. But the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby were on solid scientific ground at the time they filed their lawsuit, and remain so today, that at least one of the Obama administration’s mandatory “emergency contraceptives” also causes the death of human embryos.
It’s hard to see how this latest controversy will affect the vote count for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In 2012, moderate Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted in favor of a broad moral and religious exemption for conscientious objectors from all the requirements of the contraceptive mandate, as did Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Bob Casey. It’s not quite as hard to see why some in the media who are quick to point out the deceptions of President Trump are helping Senate Democrats and Planned Parenthood smear Brett Kavanaugh.