“It’s just one more reason to tell your senators to stop his confirmation now.
Explaining his dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, in which
Kavanaugh found it an undue burden for a religious organization to
complete a two-page form expressing their objection to providing
employees with contraceptive coverage, Kavanaugh called
contraceptives “abortion-inducing drugs,” a term that was immediately
condemned by science organizations, medical associations, and
reproductive rights advocacy groups.
To call contraceptives “abortion-inducing drugs” is to tell a lie. According to the Guttmacher Institute,
religious extremists deliberately misuse this term to conflate
contraception with abortion, which then helps them undermine the right
of women to access either form of health care. Extremist religious Right
groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Heritage
Foundation, Susan B. Anthony List, and Americans United for Life repeat
exactly the same lie that Kavanaugh did.
The evidence shows that contraceptives, including emergency
contraceptives such as Plan B, cannot end a pregnancy once it has begun.
The scientific definition of pregnancy (which was presented to the
Supreme Court in an October 2013 amicus brief
led by Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG]), stipulates that pregnancy
begins after a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus wall, which can happen up to two weeks after intercourse.
FDA-approved contraceptives work by preventing fertilization or
implantation of an egg in the lining of the uterus. This is equally true
of emergency contraceptives that, although they are taken after sexual
intercourse, have their effect before pregnancy is established and cannot remove the implantation of a fertilized egg. As ACOG points out:
Abortifacient has a precise meaning in the medical and
scientific community and it refers to the termination of a pregnancy.
Contraceptives that prevent fertilization from occurring, or even
prevent implantation, are simply not abortifacients regardless of an
individual’s personal or religious beliefs or mores.
The notion that pregnancy begins in a prior instance—say, at
fertilization—is nonsense because research shows that no more than 40
percent of fertilized eggs ever become implanted.
Implantation is also the legal standard for pregnancy used by federal
agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, as
well as all major U.S. medical organizations.
Either Kavanaugh understood all this, in which case he was telling an egregious lie about the circumstances of the Priests for Life
decision, or he did not understand it, in which case he made a decision
that affected the health, safety, and freedom of hundreds of millions
of Americans without first learning the facts. Either way, Kavanaugh’s
testimony showed that he is utterly callous about the right of women to
safe and effective health care and to privacy in their health care
decisions, and that he will privilege religious antiscience over these
Kavanaugh’s affinity for religious privilege shone through in other
moments too. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) highlighted his inconsistency
on what constitutes an “undue burden.” In contrast to his dissent in Priests for Life, his dissent in Garza v. Hargan claimed
that forcing a detained, undocumented 17-year old girl to continue an
unwanted pregnancy did not burden her right to choose an abortion. As
the Congressional Freethought Caucus said in their September 6 letter
to the Judiciary Committee, “For Kavanaugh, filling out a form burdens
religion, but forcing a child to give birth is not a burden.”
At another point, Kavanaugh told Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) that the Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Fe v. Doe was incorrectly decided because it was “hostile toward religion.” Santa Fe
is the case in which the Court decided that the Santa Fe Independent
School District unconstitutionally privileged religion by allowing
students to deliver prayers “on school property, at school-sponsored
events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker
representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty,
and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly
encourages public prayer.”
And, of course, documents released last week by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) confirm two other things: First, that Kavanaugh does not view Roe v. Wade as
settled law, contrary to a claim from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that
he told her so in a private meeting. Second, they confirm that he would
force the government to directly fund religious organizations and their
programs, utterly disregarding the central point of the Constitution’s
We already knew that Judge Kavanaugh was pro-religious privilege. Now
we see that he added antiscience to the list of reasons he is wrong for
the Supreme Court.
Please tell your Senators to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation by completing our action alert. “