Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he was simply recounting the plaintiff’s views in a 2015 lawsuit when he used the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs” to describe birth control during his confirmation hearing last week.
“That was the position of the plaintiffs in that case, and I was accurately describing the plaintiffs’ position,” Kavanaugh wrote in response to a follow-up question from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released Wednesday.
“At the hearing, I was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion,” Kavanaugh continued. “I used that phrase only when recount the plaintiffs’ own assertions.”
On the third day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Kavanaugh about his 2015 dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case. Kavanaugh sided with the religious organization. Priests for Life, a Catholic group that opposes abortion rights and didn’t want to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.
“It was a technical matter of filling out a form, in that case with ― that ― 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,” Kavanaugh said in response to Cruz’s question.
His comments sparked a wave of criticism from Democrats and members of pro-women groups, who argued that the phrase revealed Kavanaugh’s true opinion on abortion. Since President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh, there has been heated discussion about whether the judge would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal.
Later in the written follow-up questions, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) pressed Kavanaugh on his response to Cruz, asking the judge if he believes “that birth control or contraceptives are ‘abortion-inducing drugs.’”
Kavanaugh responded with the same answer he gave Grassley.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 presidential nominee, criticized Kavanaugh’s use of the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs” in a series of tweets Wednesday, writing that it “set off a lot of alarm bells.”
“Kavanaugh didn’t use that term because he misunderstands the basic science of birth control ― the fact that birth control prevents fertilization of eggs in the first place. He used that term because it’s a dog whistle to the extreme right,” Clinton tweeted.
“When Kavanaugh called birth control ‘abortion-inducing drugs,’ he made it clear that safe and legal abortion isn’t the only fundamental reproductive right at grave risk if he is confirmed,” Clinton continued. “Access to birth control is, too.”