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Kavanaugh says 'abortion-inducing drugs' quote was summarizing plaintiffs in case

Posted September 12, 2018 10:32 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2018 10:47 p.m. EDT

— Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he had been summarizing the view of the religious group that challenged an Obamacare regulation when he referred to "abortion-inducing drugs" during his confirmation hearing last week.

In written responses to questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members turned in Wednesday, Kavanaugh said he was not stating his own views on birth control or the particular phrase.

"That was the position of the plaintiffs in that case, and I was accurately describing the plaintiffs' position," Kavanaugh wrote. "At the hearing, I was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion; I used that phrase only when recounting the plaintiffs' own assertions."

At his hearing, Kavanaugh was describing a case involving an Affordable Care Act regulation that required employers to provide their workers with health insurance that covers all forms of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including birth control pills, intrauterine devices and hormonal injections.

The religious group, Priests for Life, argued it was being forced to provide health coverage for contraceptives despite its religious objections. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the Obama administration in this instance, but Kavanaugh, who's a judge on that court, dissented.

RELATED: Kavanaugh 'abortion-inducing drug' comment draws scrutiny

"That was a group that was being forced to provide certain kind of health coverage over their religious objection to their employees," Kavanaugh said last week at the hearing. "And under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the question was first, was this a substantial burden on the religious exercise? And it seemed to me quite clearly it was."

"It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case," he added. "In that case, 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, objected to."

Kavanaugh's use of the term "abortion-inducing drugs" had drawn criticism from Planned Parenthood and groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which dispute the concept and phrasing that an IUD induces abortion because it doesn't allow a fertilized egg to implant.

Planned Parenthood also stoked controversy by issuing a news release with Kavanaugh's remark at the hearing but removing the phrase "they said."