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October 16, 2020 / Memos

Exposing the GOP’s Disinformation and Deflection During Senate SCOTUS Hearings


To: Interested Parties
From: NARAL Pro-Choice America
Date: October 16, 2020

 

During this week’s Senate hearings on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Republicans largely went on the defense when asking about abortion. With Trump and Senate Republicans’ power grab in full swing, it’s clear that Roe v. Wade is on the precipice. But the Republican Party knows their hostility towards reproductive freedom is a political liability, which is why they are all deploying the same tactic of minimizing what they actually want Barrett to accomplish on the Supreme Court: ending Roe and criminalizing abortion. 

They are pivoting because they know they are out of step with the majority of this country, the 77% who support Roe. This nomination—made despite the fact that voters across the country are already casting their ballots—is an attack on our democracy. 

Below, NARAL Pro-Choice America breaks down what was said, shares analysis from key journalists who live-tweeted the event and shares how reproductive freedom champions in the Senate corrected the record during the hearing.

Debunking the Republican Party’s Disinformation

On the first day of the hearing, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) disingenuously claimed: “[Democrats] engaged in fear-mongering and describe Judge Barrett’s nomination as an end to health care, abortion rights, labor rights and the list goes on and on and on. These statements are unfair and they’re untrue.” Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) made similar comments throughout the hearing, suggesting coordination on using this tactic. 

Sen. Tillis later implemented some fear-mongering himself, falsely claiming the Democratic caucus supports policies that would’ve “allowed” someone to “take away” his granddaughter when she was born three weeks premature. Sen. Tillis’ comments, which he made multiple times, are a disgraceful lie. Murder of any person, including newborns, is already a crime, as it should be. 

During the hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (D-SC) used inflammatory rhetoric and health disinformation to tout his own legislation that would ban abortion later in pregnancy nationwide. His attacks on abortion are not rooted in medical care or science, but rather are part of a coordinated disinformation campaign deployed by the Radical Right to distract from their out-of-touch ideological agenda. 

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) referred to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs,” a false and dangerous anti-choice talking point. It’s a personal favorite of Sen. Cruz’s, even though he has been called out for it time and time again.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said that no one is trying to take away access to birth control, which is objectively false. Anti-choice politicians have tried for years to make birth control inaccessible. This summer, the Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a win in Trump vs. Pennsylvania, which put birth control coverage at risk for millions of people. Throughout this week’s committee hearing, Barrett refused to answer questions on landmark birth control access cases, like Griswold v. Connecticut

Amid the GOP Chaos and Lies, Democrats Unmasked the Truth

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) said what was on all our minds during the hearing when she noted, “Anti-choice activists and politicians have been working for decades to pass laws and file lawsuits designed to overturn Roe and the precedents that followed. The threat to choice is real.” Her comments exposed the Radical Right tactic of passing restrictions to chip back access to reproductive care.

 

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) called out exactly what would happen if Roe falls. He emphasized the impact it would have on people of color, saying “It looks like women of color, low-income women living in rural areas, who can’t just pack up and leave if abortion is restricted or criminalized where they live. It looks like them being left with no options. It looks like state laws proliferating throughout our country that seek to control and criminalize women. It looks like the government interfering with women making the most personal medical decisions. It looks like a country in which states write laws that could subject women that have miscarriages to investigations to ensure that they didn’t have abortions.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) shared the heartbreaking story of a woman who survived sexual assault, which resulted in a pregnancy. She decided to seek abortion care. He then pressed Barrett on if the constitution protects this right, and pointed out that Barrett has signed onto two letters calling for Roe to be overturned. Sen. Blumenthal also asked Barrett directly if making in vitro fertilization (IVF) a crime is constitutional, a question she refused to answer

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was among the many who shined a light on Barrett’s anti-choice, anti-freedom record, including when Barrett signed onto an ad calling Roe “barbaric.” Barrett failed to disclose this ad in the documents submitted to the Senate ahead of her confirmation hearing. Sen. Klobuchar urged her fellow senators and the American public to “follow the tracks” to see how Barrett would vote on key issues including reproductive freedom, even as Barrett refused to answer.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also asked Barrett about the ad, and asked “Do you agree with them that IVF is tantamount to manslaughter?” Barrett refused to answer.

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) exposed Barrett’s shaky relationship with legal precedent and Barrett’s suggestion that a judge should follow “her best understanding of the Constitution” instead of unconstitutional precedent. This is important, because Barrett has refused to call Roe superprecedent because “the states are very busy passing all these laws” threatening abortion.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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