Kavanaugh 'abortion-inducing drug' comment draws scrutiny

Brett Kavanaugh's views on birth control drew scrutiny in Washington on Thursday as abortion rights advocate...

Posted: Sep 8, 2018 4:20 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2018 4:20 PM

Brett Kavanaugh's views on birth control drew scrutiny in Washington on Thursday as abortion rights advocates charged that the Supreme Court nominee had referred to contraceptives as "abortion-inducing drugs."

Supporters of Kavanaugh were quick to respond, saying he was summarizing the argument of a religious group challenging the Affordable Care Act's so-called contraceptive mandate.

Abortion

Belief, religion and spirituality

Brett Kavanaugh

Contraception

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Health and medical

Medical treatments and procedures

Political Figures - US

Politics

Sexual and reproductive health

Society

US Congress

US Department of Health and Human Services

US federal court system

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

US Senate

US Supreme Court

Abortion rights

Religious groups

Societal issues

Non-profit and NGO organizations

Planned Parenthood

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Health care

Health insurance

Insurance

Pharmaceutical industry

Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology

Pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs

The controversy came as Kavanaugh was discussing a case involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The government's regulations included a requirement that all employers provide their employees with health insurance that covers all formed of FDA approved birth control including birth control pills, IUD's and horomonal injections.

The challenge was brought by a religious group that argued it was being forced to provide health coverage for contraceptives despite its religious objections. The group, Priests for Life, said the "religious accommodation" provided by the Department of Health and Human Services was insufficient. Complying with the accommodation, Priests for Life said, made the group complicit in something that went against its religious beliefs.

Kavanaugh, in dissent, expressed sympathy for the religious challengers.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, on Thursday asked Kavanaugh about the case, that came before him at the DC Circuit.

"That was a group that was being forced to provide certain kind of health coverage over their religious objection to their employees. And under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the question was first, was this a substantial burden on the religious exercise? And it seemed to me quite clearly it was," Kavanaugh said.

"It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case," he added. "In that case, 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."

None of the senators present at the hearing questioned the phrase at the time.

In a press release, however, Planned Parenthood drew attention to the exchange but left out the words "they said," making it appear as if Kavanaugh was speaking for himself.

Beth Lynk, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, acknowledged the error, but still took issue with the fact that she said Kavanaugh had mischaracterized the case and also used a controversial term used by groups opposed to abortion.

"The argument for the lawyers of Priests for Life was that they objected to all birth control," she said. "In Kavanaugh's testimony his description of their objection characterized all types of birth control as 'abortion inducing drugs.'"

"In reaching for a term to describe all types of birth control, the word he chose was 'abortion inducing drugs,"' she said.

Planned Parenthood and groups like the American College of Obstetricians and dispute the concept and phrasing that an IUD induces abortion because it doesn't allow a fertilized egg to implant.

"Saying 'abortion-inducing drugs' to describe contraception is straight out of the anti-choice, anti-science phrase book used to restrict women's access to essential health care," the Center for Reproductive Rights said on Twitter Thursday.

Travis Lenker, a former Kavanaugh clerk who has attended the hearings this week, defended the Supreme Court nominee, saying his language was an accurate summation of the group's position.

"Judge Kavanaugh was plainly describing the parties' arguments in the case, not stating his own views," Lenker said. "That's why he used the words 'they said' words that are being conveniently omitted from the quotation lifted out of context."

Kavanaugh used similar language to his Thursday answer to describe the Priests for Life position in his 2015 dissent.

"By regulation, that insurance must cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, including certain methods of birth control that, some believe, operate as abortifacients and result in the destruction of embryos," he wrote then.

In a line of his dissent that has attracted some conservative criticism, however, Kavanaugh also wrote that Supreme Court precedent "strongly suggests that the government has a compelling interest in facilitating access to contraception for the employees of these religious organizations."

Kavanaugh, 53, was nominated to the Supreme Court by Trump in July to replaced retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has been the swing vote on abortion-related cases in the past. If confirmed, he could establish a conservative majority on the nation's highest court for decades.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 115833

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook753063519
Lake7933281
DuPage7460350
Kane6083167
Will5356268
Winnebago209153
McHenry148870
St. Clair105077
Kankakee83644
Kendall75119
Rock Island63923
Champaign5957
Madison54557
Boone42416
DeKalb3704
Sangamon34328
Randolph2674
Jackson25610
McLean21613
Ogle2002
Stephenson1992
Macon19219
Peoria1918
Out of IL1831
Clinton18017
Union1519
Unassigned1490
LaSalle14113
Whiteside13412
Iroquois1314
Coles12313
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox960
Grundy952
Monroe9311
McDonough847
Lee791
Tazewell704
Cass690
Henry670
Williamson602
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin442
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion381
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard190
Mason180
Washington180
Woodford182
Hancock160
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 69°
Robinson
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 67°
Rockville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Casey
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 69°
Marshall
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 69°
Showers Early, Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events