The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for September 11th, 2018

Kavanaugh suddenly possessed by spirit of honesty

In his response to Kamala Harris’s question about whether he thought “both sides” were to blame for the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Kavanaugh demurred, saying “the principle of the independence of the judiciary means I can’t insert myself into politics in either of two ways: commenting on political events or, in my view, commenting on things said by politicians.” This rhetoric is pretty funny coming from a man whose history suggests he’s a quintessential partisan player, apparently perjuring himself twice over stolen Democratic memos and participating in all manner of wingnuttery during the Clinton years.

There’s been a bit of controversy around Kavanaugh’s statement about “abortion-inducing drugs.” Some background: Priests for Life and other Catholic institutions sued to contest the Affordable Care Act rule that employer-provided insurance must cover contraception, or the employer must sign an opt-out form. During the hearings, Ted Cruz asked Kavanaugh for his opinion about the case. Kavanaugh, siding strongly with Priests For Life, stated “they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs.” Various fact-checking organizations are zeroing in on the words “they said” to imply that Kavanaugh is referring only to the beliefs of Priests for Life, and to sneeringly suggest that Kamala Harris and other Democrats are lying when they accuse him of conflating birth control with abortion-inducing drugs.

However, Kavanaugh’s use of the word “the” in the phrase “provision of the abortion-inducing drugs” implies identification on his part with the Priests for Life perspective. A more impartial, less affirmative way to speak about the scientifically-false belief of a religious group would be to use the phrase “their belief that these drugs cause abortion.” Kavanaugh did not distance himself from Priests For Life in this manner. This sort of casual conflation is exactly the sort of thing someone who opposes reproductive rights would say. Not to mention the fact that he sided with an employer who refused to allow their insurance plan cover birth control!

We know from science that birth control does not induce abortion. Yet Kavanaugh uncritically and unquestioningly repeated this falsehood that is commonly used by anti-abortion groups. No one who believes in a woman’s right to choose, in the context of the current American abortion debate, would phrase his or her answer that way. Advocates for reproductive justice and contraceptive coverage have every right to be concerned about Kavanaugh’s response. Ironically enough, the fact-checking organizations focusing just on the words “they said” are the ones stripping the issue of its full context.

For more on this, including further worrisome evidence of Kavanaugh’s opposition to Roe, I recommend this article in the New Yorker.

Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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