Planned Parenthood Corrects Ted Cruz's Definition of Birth Control

Reproductive health care nonprofit Planned Parenthood corrected comments made by Senator Ted Cruz during Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, where he referred to birth control pills as "abortion inducing drugs."

The Texas senator referred to birth control as such when discussing assumed threats on religious freedom, referencing the Supreme Court case of The Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania. "It also extends to religious liberty. The Little Sisters of the Poor, our Catholic Convent of nuns, who take oaths of poverty, who devote their lives to caring for the sick, caring for the needy, caring for the elderly, and the Obama administration litigated against the little sisters of the poor, seeking to fine them in order to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs among others," he said during his lengthy address at the hearings.

In the case, The Little Sisters of the Poor sought exemption from part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would "mandate that health plans provide coverage for all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods." The Supreme Court ruled that organizations could opt out of the ACA requirement to provide contraceptive care for religious and moral reasons.

In a statement at the time, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson called the ruling "egregious" and said that it would continue fighting for birth control access. "The dual public health crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism and violence are pushing people, our health care system, and our economy beyond their limits, and yet today, the Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to make essential health care even more difficult to access. Restrictions like this target Black and Latinx people who are more likely to be low income and for whom basic health care has always remained out of reach, because of historic and continued underinvestment in access to affordable care. This decision will only make life harder for the very people who are keeping our economy afloat during this pandemic and fighting in the streets for the right to control their bodies and lives," the statement said.

The nonprofit quote-tweeted its own tweet from October 2015, where it called out the senator during a GOP debate, for referring to birth control pills as "abortion inducing drug[s]." The tweet mocked him calling him a "Gynotician," which the Planned Parenthood website explains is "A politician who feels more qualified than you or your doctor to make your personal health care decisions."

In the tweet Tuesday, Planned Parenthood called out Cruz. "5 years later and Ted Cruz hasn't learned," the organization wrote. "But the facts remain: Birth control can't cause an abortion. But both abortion and birth control ARE health care."

A 2010 post from Planned Parenthood explained that birth control pills do not cause abortion but rather prevent pregnancy. In a statement to Newsweek, Johnson reiterated that birth control is not the same as an abortion and criticized the senator for rushing Barrett's confirmation. Her full statement can be found below:

"Birth control can't end a pregnancy — it isn't abortion. For a senator to purposely misconstrue medical facts to push his political agenda is abhorrent and dangerous. Both abortion and birth control are time-sensitive, essential health care — full stop. And as our nation continues to face a public health crisis in this pandemic, it's unfortunate that Sen. Cruz and his colleagues continue to rush the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whose views are a direct threat to health care access. Senate leaders should be focused on getting people COVID-19 relief instead of devoting all their time to this illegitimate confirmation process — let alone spreading inaccurate soundbytes."

Others chimed in to provide further context on the ruling and reiterate that birth control and plan B are not "abortion-inducing drugs." Another reporter explained that the accusation of being forced to pay for "abortion-inducing drugs" was incorrect.

Planned Parenthood tweeted earlier that Cruz supporting Barrett was likely a sign that "abortion access is at risk." In the tweet the organization explained that "17 abortion related cases are one step from the Supreme Court." In an October press release, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund called for the Senate to hold off on confirming a new Supreme Court Justice until after the 2021 inauguration.

A press contact for Ted Cruz did not respond to Newsweek's emailed request for comment in time for publication.

Ted Cruz
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) listens as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Getty/Kevin Dietsch-Pool