Brett Kavanaugh called birth control “abortion-inducing drugs,” and here’s why that’s so wrong

Concerns that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade have been mounting since his nomination in July. Although the conservative judge has insisted that the landmark decision is legal precedent, an email leaked on September 5th hinted that he feels it could be repealed. And yesterday, September 6th, pro-choice activists grew even more worried about the future of reproductive rights when the nominee referred to contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

Time reports that during the third day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings, Texas Senator Ted Cruz asked him to comment on a 2015 case in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in which an anti-abortion Catholic organization protested the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide birth control. Kavanaugh, who was serving on the court at the time, went against the majority opinion and sided with the religious group, Priests for Life. He explained his opinion to Cruz:

"The question was first, was this a substantial burden on their religious exercise? And it seemed to me, quite clearly, it was, he said. “They said filling out the form would make them complicit in the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to."

It should be noted that the term “abortion-inducing drugs” was used by Priests for Life in the original court case—Kavanaugh was using their words, not his. That being said, it’s still factually inaccurate. No form of contraceptive is an “abortion-inducing drug.” Planned Parenthood notes that IUDs work by blocking sperm from reaching an egg, so no fertilization takes place with these methods, and birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. Priests for Life also argued that emergency contraceptives—like Plan B—induce abortion, but, again, Planned Parenthood notes that these products are only meant to prevent fertilization, not end it.

For this reason, pro-choice organizations condemned Kavanaugh’s usage of the term “abortion-inducing drugs.” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told HuffPost that this remark was “anti-woman.”

"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," Laguens told HuffPost. "Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake."

On top of not causing abortion, birth control pills are used for a variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with contraception. Access to these medications is a matter of health for many people, and we can’t afford to have a Supreme Court justice who will jeopardize that access. If you feel strongly about this issue, be sure to call your elected officials.

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