Opinion: Kavanaugh’s confirmation would put women’s rights in jeopardy

Editor’s Note: This op-ed mentions the topic of sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.


by Rosa Gude, Special to The Simpsonian

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was the top pick by President Trump to replace Justice Kennedy after his retirement this year. Liberals say his conservative notions will provide a gateway to negative changes in women’s health, and I agree.

Supporters of Kavanaugh say his position with women is more friendly than people think.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kavanaugh is an advocate for hiring record amounts of women. “He is the only D.C. Circuit judge to have ever hired four women in the same year for a clerkship,” the paper stated.

According to the American Progress website, Kavanaugh endorses then-Justice William Rehnquist’s argument that states could not be sued by state workers in National League of Cities v. Usery case. Women are much more likely to be minimum wage workers – 62 percent according to the Pew Research Center – putting female public workers at a disadvantage since they can’t file claims for workplace discrimination.

Then, there are Kavanaugh’s views on women’s reproductive rights.

Kavanaugh heard the Priests for Life v. HHS case in 2015 which involved a religious organization challenging the contraception mandate. In his dissent, Judge Kavanaugh showed sympathy for the religious organizations.

“The regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs,” he said, referencing an earlier case involving the separation of church and state.

In his third day of confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh was questioned by Sen. Ted Cruz (D-TX) about this case and referred to contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs,” the phrase used by the Priests for Life organization during the case.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) tweeted in response: “Judge Kavanaugh just said Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was about ‘abortion-inducing drugs.’ That’s a GROSS misunderstanding of the case, which was about insurance coverage for contraceptives. It’s further proof of Kavanaugh’s hostility toward women’s reproductive freedom.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also tweeted about the matter, saying: “Newsflash Brett Kavanaugh: Contraception is NOT abortion…”

Women everywhere need access to affordable health care. Young women, especially college students, use public health resources because they are safe, inexpensive and reliable.

For example, Planned Parenthood recorded 2.4 million patients in its 2016-2017 annual report. Kavanaugh’s dissent in cases like Priests for Life v. HHS shows he sympathizes with the religious organizations and thinks their beliefs are more important than a woman’s health.

For women who can’t afford contraceptives or other procedures due to poor or no insurance, public health institutions are a must. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Des Moines offered junior Natalia Rose, with a sense of security.

Rose strongly opposes Kavanaugh’s confirmation due to the possible losses of public health for women in need.

“I am against it because I don’t want other women to be powerless when they need to choose how to handle their personal health,” Rose said.

Rose used Planned Parenthood four times in the last three years for gynecological help and a procedure. To them, affordability and accessibility to health care is crucial for women everywhere.

As a woman, I want to feel safe in this country knowing I will have safe access to reproductive services if I have nowhere else to go – Planned Parenthood is that safe place.

The sexual assault accusations from Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford raise the question about his credibility among women. Ford recounted an instance at a high school party in which she says Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge pushed her “into a bedroom” and “locked the door and played loud music, precluding any successful attempts to yell for help.

“Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with Judge, who periodically jumped on Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state,” Ford said.

She said after a few attempts to escape, she finally succeeded, then running across the hall to the bathroom and later out of the house.

President Trump slammed the accusation, tweeting: “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time and place!”

He said later that it would be a shame if these accusations hindered the judge’s confirmation.

“His family has suffered,” Trump said. “His family has suffered. What’s going on is not something that should happen. Brett Kavanaugh is an absolute, outstanding person. Hopefully he will be confirmed quickly.”

New accusations surfaced on Sunday from Deborah Ramirez who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dorm party in college.

Kavanaugh responded in a statement: “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple.”

Two sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh, and he still won’t budge?

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” he said. “I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.”

Just because someone has not had sexual intercourse does not mean they did not sexually assault people. The actions Kavanaugh is accused of were not sexual intercourse—they were both cases of disgusting exposure or forceful assault on a woman. His counterargument of simply “being a virgin” is invalid.

In my opinion, no number of women hired at his office can overshadow the fact he supported the refusal of health care access to young women, opposes Planned Parenthood and quality women’s health care under insurance providers and has two sexual assault accusations against him. Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be a strike against women of this country.