Trump Judiciary Nominee Grilled for Moderating 'Abortion Hurts Women's Health’ Panel, Featuring ‘The Pill Kills’ Brochure

A Trump-nominated judge who omitted a number of anti-abortion speeches from her Senate questionnaire had a lot to answer for when she sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. 

Ahead of her confirmation hearing, news broke that Wendy Vitter, a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, hadn't been entirely forthcoming with the extent of her anti-abortion advocacy. Most glaringly, in 2013 Vitter moderated a panel called "Abortion Hurts Women's Health," which included a speaker who promoted a brochure warning women: "The Pill Kills." The brochure linked birth control pills with "violent death," as well as promiscuity and infidelity.

On Wednesday, Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, asked Vitter, "Do you think birth control pills lead women to have extramarital affiars?"

Vitter initially skirted the question, maintaining that she'd "never heard those views before," and, at the end of the panel, encouraged audience members to take the brochure to their doctors, who would "be in the best position to advise them."

"[But] do you think those comments are based on reason?" Harris asked. 

Eventually, Vitter responded: "No, senator, I do not."

Other Democrats on the committee pressed Vitter on her pro-life views, which she said she never meant to withhold from the senators. 

Senator Rich Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, asked Vitter about a rally that same year, where the Louisiana judge claimed Planned Parenthood kills "over 150,000 a year." Vitter refused to say whether she still agrees with the statement. 

President Donald Trump has been open about his plans to stock the federal judiciary with pro-life appointees. He made comments to that effect in the days following the 2016 election, and campaigned on appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Vitter, who is also the wife of former Louisiana Senator David Vitter, told Harris that she considered the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion rights a "precedent" to which she was bound and intended to follow. 

"I understand the gravitas of the position you're considering me for," Vitter said earlier in the hearing. "If I say I will take a conscious effort to put aside my personal, religious and political views and judge a matter based on facts presented to me in the law, that's what I'll do." 

But reproductive rights advocates are still wary of Vitter and have called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the president's nomination. 

In the days leading up to Vitter's hearing, Planned Parenthood launched a five-figure digital ad campaign opposing Vitter's nomination, and circulated a petition that garnered 20,000 signatures. Other women's health advocates, like NARAL, the National Women's Law Center and Lambda Legal, gathered outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building Wednesday morning. 

"The bottom line is that Vitter can’t be trusted to be unbiased or fair-minded," Dana Singiser, the vice president of public policy and government affairs at Planned Parenthood, said in a statement Tuesday. "By promoting fake science and misinformation as fact, Wendy Vitter has proven that she doesn’t have the judgment needed for a lifetime seat on the federal bench."