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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doubled down Wednesday on a claim Sen. Kamala Harris made regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s views on birth control that multiple fact-checkers have already determined to be false.
“I want to be sure we’re all clear about something that Brett Kavanaugh said in his confirmation hearings last week. He referred to birth-control pills as ‘abortion-inducing drugs,’” Clinton tweeted. “That set off a lot of alarm bells for me, and it should for you, too.”
“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,” she added.
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.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 12, 2018
The Washington Post awarded Harris with four Pinocchios for sharing a selectively edited video about Kavanaugh while arguing that he is “going after” birth control.
The California Democrat tweeted footage of an exchange Kavanaugh had with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas during the judge’s confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Cruz asked Kavanaugh about his dissent in the 2014 Priests for Life case before the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals involving the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
The nominee answered by recounting the plaintiff priests’ position in the case regarding filling out a Department of Health and Human Services form to obtain a waiver from the contraception mandate, which, if accepted by HHS, required health insurance providers to offer the coverage free of charge to those who were interested.
Kavanaugh told Cruz, “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, objecting to.”
Harris’s video omitted Kavanaugh saying, “they said,” making it appear that he was offering a statement about his views on the matter, and even birth control more broadly.
Harris wrote of the exchange in a tweet on Friday.
“Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control,” she tweeted. “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 – this is about punishing women.”
Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control. 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 – this is about punishing women. pic.twitter.com/zkBjXzIvQI
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) September 7, 2018
Kavanaugh explained to Cruz that the reason he dissented in the case was based on the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores decision, which found business owners have the right not to provide contraception coverage to employees if it runs contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
It should be noted that Hobby Lobby’s owners did not object to providing birth control coverage, which they were in fact doing, but did object to providing contraceptives they believe cause abortions, including “morning-after pills” and two types of intrauterine devices.
There are 16 other FDA-approved contraception methods that the company did not object to, as they prevent the egg from being fertilized in the first place.
However, the four methods of contraception at issue in the case “may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus.” Thus, the concern was that by providing these abortifacients, they would be facilitating abortion.
After receiving significant criticism for her misleading tweet, Harris included Kavanaugh’s comments in context in a subsequent post, but argued, “There’s no question that he uncritically used the term ‘abortion-inducing drugs,’ which is a dog whistle term used by extreme anti-choice groups to describe birth control.”
The Washington Post was not buying the senator’s explanation.
“Harris’s decision to snip those crucial words (‘they said’) from her first post on the video is certainly troubling,” wrote Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.
Regarding her follow up tweet, he added, “But there was no acknowledgment by Harris that the original tweet was misleading.”
Kessler concluded, “She earns Four Pinocchios — and her fellow Democrats should drop this talking point.”
Four Pinocchios is the worst rating The Post awards for false statements.
Politifact also found Harris’ Twitter post in error.
“In Harris’ tweet, Kavanaugh appears to define contraception as abortion-inducing. But the video failed to include a crucial qualifier: ‘They said,’” Politifact reported.
“In fact, he was citing the definition of the religious group Priests for Life. He has not expressed his personal view,” the fact-checker added. “We rate this statement False.”
National Review’s David French chastised Clinton for grabbing onto Harris’ claim against Kavanaugh, which she should have known to be false.
Hillary Clinton comes barreling back into the conversation with a timely reminder that she’s one of the more prolific liars in modern American politics. https://t.co/K9wIPL8qsh
— David French (@DavidAFrench) September 12, 2018
He tweeted, “Hillary Clinton comes barreling back into the conversation with a timely reminder that she’s one of the more prolific liars in modern American politics.”