In a field of terrible judicial nominees, Wendy Vitter is exceptionally unfit

In a field of terrible judicial nominees, Wendy Vitter is exceptionally unfit
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While blaring headlines change minute by minute in Washington, the Trump-Pence administration is partnering with their allies in the Senate to quietly reshape the nation’s federal courts. The reproductive health and rights of a generation are at stake, and we owe it to future generations to pay attention.

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE’s judicial nominee for a lifetime appointment on the Eastern District of Louisiana. In a historically large field of historically terrible judicial nominees, Wendy Vitter is singularly unfit to sit on the federal bench.

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Vitter has been an active opponent of abortion rights for decades. She has used her public stature to promote fake science and misinformation about abortion and birth control. She has spoken at anti-abortion rallies, led anti-abortion panels, and represented anti-abortion organizations.

 

At one 2013 event, she moderated a panel called “Abortion Hurts Women’s Health,” where she appeared to endorse medically inaccurate and inflammatory claims about birth control, including a brochure entitled “How The Pill Kills.”  During the panel, she also asked the panelists to discuss a “connection between cancer and post-abortive women” and “infertility problems …in post-abortive women” — all of which have absolutely no basis in reality, let alone scientific research.

In case you’re wondering, the American Cancer Society has dismissed any linkage between breast cancer and abortion.

Vitter has also praised laws in Texas that made it significantly more difficult for women to access safe and legal abortion — laws that were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Also in 2013, she spoke alongside anti-abortion zealots at an event opposing the construction of a Planned Parenthood health center in New Orleans, which has provided birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment to thousands of women since it opened in 2016.

She has been so prolific and outspoken about her views on abortion that the anti-abortion organization Louisiana Right to Life gave Vitter their “Proudly Pro-Life Award.” Louisiana ranks among the worst states in the country for abortion access and is the third poorest state in the nation. The need for reproductive health care including safe, legal abortion is dire. Statewide, only three health centers offer safe, legal abortion for nearly one million women of reproductive age.

Vitter failed to disclose these events in her judicial nominations questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee — 95 pages worth of documents that were only added to her disclosures after they were brought to the attention of the senators on the committee.

These appearances were easily searchable online. There is no doubt that her failure to include them amounts to a lie of omission, because Vitter knows as well as anyone that these speeches and appearances disqualify her to serve as a U.S. District Court judge. Did I mention that this is a lifetime appointment?

Access to safe and legal abortion is a right that has been enshrined in American jurisprudence for more than 40 years. Today, support for Roe v. Wade is higher than ever — about 70 percent of Americans want it to remain the law of the land. And one in four women have an abortion by the time they’re 45. Abortion is basic health care and must remain safe and legal.

If Vitter is confirmed, she would be serving in a state where reproductive health and rights are under constant attack from politicians. Louisiana ranks 46th for reproductive rights and 49th for women’s health and well-being, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

For millions of people living in an increasingly divided and partisan country, the judiciary is the last defense they have against political ideology sweeping away their rights. Our system of government demands that every judge is called to interpret the law fairly and without bias or a political agenda.

Wendy Vitter’s agenda is clear. Her nomination threatens the rights of millions of people and the fairness of our judiciary. The Senate should reject her nomination.

Dana Singiser is the vice president of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.