Kavanaugh explains 'abortion-inducing drugs' remark amid backlash
© Greg Nash

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told senators that he was summarizing the plaintiffs' views in an ObamaCare case when he referred to birth control as "abortion-inducing drugs."

Kavanaugh's use of the phrase during his confirmation hearing sparked days of backlash from Democrats and progressive groups, who argued the Supreme Court pick was trying to signal his own views.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Kavanaugh, in written responses provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, told senators that the phrase, "abortion-inducing drugs," summarized the plaintiffs' position, stating "I was accurately describing the plaintiffs’ position." 

"At the hearing, I was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion; I used that phrase only when recount the plaintiffs’ own assertions," Kavanaugh wrote in a response to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Grassley announces opposition to key Trump proposal to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) about his use of the phrase. 

Kavanaugh gave a similar answer later in a written response to Democratic Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFemale senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Female senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Trump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation MORE (Hawaii). Hirono asked Kavanaugh if, regardless of whether the term was used by a party, he believed that birth control or contraceptives are "abortion-inducing drugs."

Kavanaugh doubled down on his response to Grassley in responding to Hirono's question.

The Supreme Court nominee sparked a political firestorm when he used the phrase "abortion-inducing drugs" last week during his marathon confirmation hearing. The phrase came as part of Kavanaugh's response to a question from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias MORE (R-Texas) about his opinion in a case — Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kavanaugh dissented from the D.C Circuit’s decision not to rehear a challenge religious employers brought against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage requirement.

"It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case. In that case, 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 told Cruz.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) quickly pounced on Kavanaugh's word choice in a tweet, but was later criticized for taking his comments out of context.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler awarded Harris "four Pinocchios" for not making it clear Kavanaugh was describing the views of the plaintiffs in the case, not his own.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' MORE echoed Harris's criticism in a series of tweets Wednesday, claiming the comment shows Kavanaugh’s extremist ideology.

“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,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted.