California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) and Planned Parenthood have come under fire for pushing a deceptively edited video that purportedly shows Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh describing contraceptives as "abortion-inducing drugs."
As it turns out, that's far from what Kavanaugh said.
What's the truth?
The moment happened last Thursday when Sen. Ted Cruz asked Kavanaugh about a case involving Priests for Life. The pro-life organization had sued the government challenging the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate provision, arguing the method for opting out of the mandate "unlawfully burdened their exercise of free religion," according to National Review.
In Priests for Life v. HHS, a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against Priests for Life. The organization then requested an en banc hearing from the full D.C. Circuit, but the court denied the request. Kanavaugh wrote a dissent from the en banc denial explaining he believed Obamacare's mandate, and the government's opting out method, would "substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion."
On Thursday, Cruz asked Kavanaugh to explain his dissent.
"That was a group that was being forced to provide a 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. They said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they, as a religious matter, objected to," he explained.
Indeed, Kavanaugh was only repeating how Priests for Life described contraceptive drugs to the court. D.C. Circuit Justice Cornelia Pillard wrote in the majority opinion:
It is undisputed that Plaintiffs all sincerely believe that life begins at conception and that contraception is contrary to Catholic tenets. Priests for Life, for example, was founded to spread the Gospel of Life, which “affirms and promotes the culture of life and actively opposes and rejects the culture of death.” Pls.’ Br. 11. Catholic doctrine prohibits “impermissible cooperation with evil,” and thus opposes providing access to “contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing products,” which the Church views as “immoral regardless of their cost.”
What did Harris do?
Harris tweeted out a highly deceptive 11-second video that removed all context from Kavanaugh's comments. The video, therefore, made it appear that "abortion-inducing drugs" is how Kavanaugh personally views contraceptives.
"Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control," Harris wrote. "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."
Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control. He was nominat… https://t.co/eJQhh3iikL— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris) 1536345950.0
After being widely condemned, Harris on Saturday tweeted the full context for Kavanaugh's comments. Still, she stood by her characterization.
"Here is Kavanaugh's full answer. There's no question that he uncritically used the term 'abortion-inducing drugs,' which is a dog whistle term used by extreme anti-choice groups to describe birth control," Harris said.
Mainstream media outlet CNN helped push Harris' version of events.
Brett Kavanaugh's views on birth control drew scrutiny after he referred to contraceptives as "abortion-inducing dr… https://t.co/LsJyDOvZax— CNN Politics (@CNN Politics) 1536361212.0
What did Planned Parenthood do?
In a press release, the pro-abortion group left out the words "they said," making it appear that Kavanaugh was describing his personal position on contraceptives. They later "acknowledged the error," according to CNN.