No, Contraceptives Are Not "Abortion-Inducing" Drugs

No, Contraceptives Are Not "Abortion-Inducing" Drugs

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the latest Supreme Court nominee introduced by President Donald Trump, doesn’t understand contraceptives — and neither do his pro-life religious defendants. On Tuesday, during his third day of Senate confirmation hearings, the judge presented himself as quite the virgin when his inaccurate description of birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs” caught the attention of activists, politicians and the mainstream media.

“Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), presenting footage of his answer. “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,” she continued, “this is about punishing women.”

She was joined by fellow left-wing figures in Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and other pro-choice organizations who took this as a dog whistle against reproductive rights. “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 also anti-woman, anti-science propaganda,” wrote Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in an official statement delivered to Vox.

When both The Washington Post and Politifact tried to reframe the event, claiming this was some false left-wing narrative taken out of context, it was Sen. Harris who published his complete unedited response to showcase their actual argument. “Here is Kavanaugh’s full answer,” she continued to write. “There’s no question that he uncritically used the term ‘abortion-inducing drugs,’ which is a dog whistle term used by the extreme anti-choice groups to describe birth control.”

In context, Kavanaugh used this phrase when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked the SCOTUS nominee about his dissent in the 2015 legal case of Priests For Life V. The U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services, paraphrasing a religious organization he sided with when they contested The Affordable Care Act (ACA, otherwise nicknamed Obamacare) for its mandate that health insurance plans must cover female contraceptive medicine if their patients want them. The group was the first to use this phrase when they filed their lawsuit on doctrinal grounds, claiming the mandate violated their religious liberties under the First Amendment.

The D.C. Circuit Court ultimately ruled in favor of the Obama administration, finding restriction of birth control coverage, at least regarding females, to be a violation of multiple policies. These include the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which categorizes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy as discrimination on the basis of sex, which is also outlawed by the 1964 passage of The Civil Rights Act. The mandate, which ironically doesn’t cover male contraceptive products, also allowed the group to seek a religious exemption through a formal document, allowing a separate insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage. The group never sought this process, possibly to play the absolute legal martyrs of the pro-life movement, according to Kavanaugh’s description of the events.

“The question was first, was this a substantial burden on their religious exercise? And it seemed to me, quite clearly, it was,” Kavanaugh told the senator during his hearing, citing The Religious Restoration Act of 1993 as their legal justification. “They said filling out the [exemption] forms would make them complicit in the ‘abortion-inducing drugs’ that they were, as a religious matter, objected to.”

Their counter-argument of religious liberty was, in actuality, an example of a market entity restricting the entitled health coverage from their employees based on a religious faith to which their workers may not subscribe, thus considered void and authoritarian abuse. Kavanaugh, however, disagreed with the ruling, seemingly convinced by their notions about contraceptives constituting a tool to abort babies — all based on a lie perpetuated by their superstitious doctrines.

And this is the important part: While Kavanaugh himself may not have opined that contraceptive drugs are ‘abortion-inducing’ (he has since pushed back on this interpretation of his remarks via a written statement), he was still swayed enough by the plaintiffs' religious beliefs based on questionable evidence. Their arguments conflate abortion, categorized by pro-lifers as the murder of babies, with contraception, which prevents life from being formed in the womb. Their case hinges on their disdain for abortion, cited as wrong by their religious standards. To include contraceptives as the same is biologically dishonest. Kavanaugh doesn’t necessarily need to have said the words abortion-inducing himself – by accepting the definition the plaintiffs put forward he has effectively agreed with their characterization.   

According to a 2012 investigation from The New York Times, examining the science behind contraceptives — birth control pills, condoms, hormonal intrauterine devices and implants—don’t technically fit the scientific definition of an abortive procedure. This is because pregnancy only begins once the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, not before. Those who ejaculate onto a tissue, a toilet or a spouse’s inappropriate bodily holes haven’t, all of a sudden, brought a million microscopic people into their room. “Otherwise, hand-jobs are genocide,” once joked Christopher Hitchens in a spirited defense of sexual liberty. “And don’t get me started on blow-jobs,” he continued, “because it’d certainly not be kosher.”

The differences between implantation, fertilization and abortion are key to the nuanced arguments for pro-choice and safe sex. Those in favor of abortive procedures, in the actual sense of the word, are dealing with a completely different stage in the biological process, and thus a different set of ethical arguments.

The most contentious of contraceptives — the morning-after pill and the copper IUD — are more complex than this notion of drugs causing baby murder. The Times cited the National Institutes of Health in its removal of passages saying these drugs prevent implantation. Their article found a growing body of research that such drugs, such as Plan B and Ella, when taken up to five days after unprotected sex, simply work to stop fertilization by delaying ovulation and thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from swimming through the body towards a fertilizable egg. This isn’t murder, but a drug-induced eviction where medical intervention stops the intruder.

Intruders are viewed as wrong in the context of a home invasion, wrong in the context of rape, yet somehow debatable in both pregnancy and semen. The former has merit, as two fundamental rights (body property and reproductive life) are conflicting with one another, while the other is just the prevention of semen entry. It shouldn’t have to be stated that sperm isn’t entitled to enter the womb upon orgasm, no matter which God demands it, and it certainly doesn’t need big government’s help.