Here's what we will and won't hear from the Kavanaugh hearings

Here's what we will and won't hear from the Kavanaugh hearings
© UPI Photo

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told us we should expect Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to dodge questions about access to abortion and the right to privacy.

Kavanaugh’s record shows that if confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would destroy our reproductive rights by, at minimum further hollowing out Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that recognized the constitutional right to abortion. And any Senator who supports him is complicit in the further erosion of women’s rights in America. They cannot allow him to use code-words to conceal the reality of his record and then claim to be moderate, principled, or supportive of women’s rights.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kavanaugh’s answers today and tomorrow will be highly scripted and purposely uninformative for the millions trying to understand the direction Kavanaugh would take the country for the next generation. His responses will certainly be much less informative than his speech last year to a right-wing group where he lamented former Justice William Rehnquist’s inability to sway the majority in Roe, or his ruling in a 2017 case in which he delayed a young immigrant woman seeking to end her pregnancy.

Contrary to what Grassley and the majority members on the Judiciary Committee have said, past nominees have fully answered questions about where they stand on the right to privacy, including to safe, legal abortion. Yesterday they tried to invoke a false “Ginsburg standard” by wrongly suggesting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set a precedent for Supreme Court nominees to duck questions about Roe v. Wade. Ginsburg directly answered questions on abortion and affirmatively declared the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion in her confirmation hearing. That is the real Ginsburg standard — Kavanaugh should be held to it and should give clear answers on Roe and the constitutional right to abortion.

With so much at stake, women are right to demand straight answers from Kavanaugh. So far, they don’t like what they see: Less than a third of women in the U.S. support Kavanaugh’s elevation to the court.

That’s because Roe v. Wade, is more popular than ever, with more than seven in ten Americans supporting the landmark decision. So it is in Kavanaugh’s interest to mislead the public about his views and his record.

My prediction is that Judge Kavanaugh will use phrases like “respecting precedent,” “settled law” and “stare decisis” to obfuscate his record and his true beliefs about abortion and women’s rights.

Past nominees, including Justices Roberts and Alito, got away with answers like this, only to later ignore precedent and further limit abortion access.

But with our fundamental rights hanging in the balance, Kavanaugh cannot be let off the hook so easily. Remember, he was nominated by Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE, who explicitly promised to only appoint “pro-life judges” who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump told us his litmus test. Senators should ask point-blank if Kavanaugh passed it, and he should be expected to answer.

Yesterday, Grassley was flabbergasted by the protests that broke out periodically in the chamber, mostly by women demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be rejected. He said he has never seen anything like it in his time on the Judiciary Committee. He and his majority colleagues seemed unable to fathom that the public might have something to say about the man that could be appointed to the highest court in the land, for a lifetime.

While Grassley pushed forward with the hearing, 250 people stood in the lobby of the building, telling stories of their abortions, or the pre-existing conditions that would make them uninsurable without the Affordable Care Act’s protections.

One of the people in the room during the hearing was Kim Jorgensen Gane, a woman from Michigan who came to Washington to represent the voice of the 1 in 4 women in the U.S. who will have an abortion. Kim had an abortion at the Planned Parenthood in Kalamazoo in 1986. Today, she is a mother to four, including her stepdaughter and her nephew, for whom she is the legal guardian. She says she would not be the mother she is if she hadn’t had access to the safe, legal abortion she needed.

There are countless other women who deserve a seat at the table during Kavanaugh’s hearings. Women who risked their health and their freedom to get abortions before abortion was legal.

The children and families some of those women left behind when they died from unsafe procedures. People who were able to build careers and chase dreams because they could decide whether and when to have children, and women who were able to end pregnancies when faced with life-threatening complications.

As senators decide the fate of our personal rights and liberties, these are the voices that should ring loudest in their ears.

Dawn Laguens is the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.