Sen. Kamala Harris Condemned for Leading Kavanaugh Smear with Deceptively Edited Video

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a Policy Forum on Immigration at the California Endowment on February 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Harris held two town hall style events in Southern California to speak with residents about contributions made by immigrants and refugees to the state's economy. (Photo …
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Sen. Kamala Harris of California is being condemned for leading an attempt to smear Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh – this time with a deceptively edited video of a portion of his Senate confirmation hearings.

The California Democrat tweeted an edited video of Kavanaugh’s response to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s questions about the judge’s 2015 dissent from denial of hearing en banc in the case of Priests for Life v. HHS:

The case involved Priests for Life’s lawsuit against the federal government over Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate provision. The pro-life organization ultimately appealed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for religious employers who objected to being forced by the government to provide free contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs to employees through health insurance plans.

The “accommodation” required faith group-employers that objected to the mandate to notify the federal government of their objection by filing a form. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was then to arrange for the same coverage of the same services with the employer’s insurance company, rather than the employer himself.

In his response to Cruz’s question about his dissent, Kavanaugh responded by summarizing the position of the plaintiffs, Priests for Life:

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. 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.

However, Harris’s video was a sliced-and-diced version of Kavanaugh’s response to Cruz – which made it appear the nominee himself views contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

“Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control,” she posted. “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.”

As Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network, wrote at National Review:

It’s clear that in his testimony to Senator Cruz, Kavanaugh was repeating the words that the plaintiffs had used in their own briefs. To say that because Kavanaugh accurately characterized the plaintiffs’ position he himself believes that contraceptives are abortion-inducing drugs demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the Priests for Life litigation, as well as Kavanaugh’s testimony yesterday.

CNN,HuffPo, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL pushed out Harris’s narrative, but the senator – considered to be a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful – received such criticism for her smear that she was forced to tweet out the full video excerpt of the exchange between Cruz and Kavanaugh:

Still, Harris persisted in her narrative by stating, “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”:

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told HuffPo, “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.”

“Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake,” Laguens continued with the narrative. “Let me break it down for you, Brett. Birth control is basic health care. Birth control allows women to plan their futures, participate in the economy, and ― for some women with health issues like endometriosis ― allows them to get through the day.”

Similarly, Bob Bland, co-president of the Women’s March, said, “We know Brett Kavanaugh is against abortion, and now we know he thinks birth control is abortion.”

Abortion political advocacy group NARAL also tweeted:

CNN then reported that Beth Lynk, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, “acknowledged the error” of the smear, but insisted Kavanaugh had misrepresented the case.

“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.'”

White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah tweeted, “By posting ‘full answer,’ @KamalaHarris tacitly concedes to deceptive editing. But within it, Judge #Kavanaugh didn’t “uncritically use” a term, he stated a party’s own position accurately & without prejudice. That’s what a good/objective judge must do.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said in a statement sent to Breitbart News that Kavanaugh accurately described “abortion-inducing drugs”:

Disputing with Judge Kavanaugh on terminology is a distraction from the main point, which is that the law must protect citizen’s rights to live their sincerely held religious beliefs, no matter what terminology they use in expressing those beliefs. Judge Kavanaugh completely understands the distinction between contraception and ‘abortion-inducing drugs’ and knows that some redefine pregnancy as beginning at implantation rather than fertilization.

“What Judge Kavanaugh also understands, and many of his objectors do not, is that it is not the role of the Court to judge the accuracy or credibility of a citizen’s religious beliefs, but to protect the citizens’ freedom to hold and live those beliefs,” Pavone added. “That is what he did in the Priests for Life case, and that is one of the countless reasons he should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

 

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