Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter’s personal pro-life views were under intense scrutiny from several Democratic senators at her confirmation hearing Wednesday. Vitter was repeatedly asked about her pro-life beliefs and whether they would interfere with her role as a judge. She was also grilled about statements made in past, pro-life speaking engagements.
The main questions from Democratic senators centered around two appearances she made, that were recently cited by the abortion giant Planned Parenthood in an op-ed targeting Vitter prior to the hearing. One appearance was as the moderator of a 2013 Louisiana Right to Life panel where views that birth control is linked to breast cancer and domestic violence were aired by one of the participants. At another 2013 appearance, she said Planned Parenthood killed “over 150,000 females a year.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) grilled Vitter on that first appearance saying “on this panel you endorsed the views of the speaker who preceded you, Dr. Angela LanFranchi, an anti-abortion doctor known for trading in the widely debunked claim that abortions cause breast cancer.”
She said Vitter urged “the audience to distribute these materials,” and called them “facts.”
Vitter replied that she “had never heard those views before,” and “at the end when I was giving action items on them what I was trying to encourage the participants who had heard this to do was to speak to their own medical provider because I thought a doctor, your own doctor would be the best person to provide information to you and provide you their opinion on this.”
Hirono later brought up Vitter's statement that Planned Parenthood kills "over 150,000 females a year."
"I assumed you were referring to aborted fetuses who were females, is that what you were referring to when you said, ‘Planned Parenthood kills 150,000 females a year?’” She asked.
“That is correct,” Vitter replied.
Asked about failing to initially disclose these statements, Vitter clarified that the omissions were inadvertent and “there was never any intent to do anything but be forthcoming with this committee about both my personal and professional life.”
“I am pro-life,” Vitter stated as Hirono’s questioning continued, saying that view has been apparent throughout her public life.
She added that she valued her integrity and “if I say that I will take a conscious effort and put aside my personal views, my religious views, and my political views, and judge a matter on the facts presented to me and the law, that’s what I will do.”
As Hirono’s questioning concluded, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told Vitter, “your religious views are your own…I hope we never get to the point as a country where a religious view point becomes either a qualification or a disqualification in fact we have multiple provisions of our Constitution that expressly prohibit that from happening.”
However, Vitter was repeatedly asked about her pro-life statements and beliefs by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
“Do you believe birth control pills cause women to have extramarital affairs?” Sen. Harris asked, referencing again the views of Dr. Angela LanFranchi from the 2013 panel Vitter had moderated.
“No Senator, I do not,” Vitter replied.
Harris then quoted President Trump’s promise to appoint pro-life judges and what she thought it meant to be a “pro-life judge.”
“I can’t comment on what the president meant by that,” Vitter replied, later adding “if I am confirmed by the Senate I would take my oath very seriously to set aside my religious or personal or political views and follow precedent. Roe v. Wade is precedent. I would be bound by it and I would follow it.”
Sen. Blumenthal then asked Vitter if she believed Roe v. Wade “was correctly decided.”
“Again senator, my personal, or religious, or political views I would need to set aside and I have spoken to several members of this committee that that’s what I would do,” she replied. “I would follow Roe v. Wade because that is the law of the Supreme Court and I would be bound to follow that law.”
“Do you consider yourself to be pro-life now?” Blumenthal asked.
When Vitter replied that she was, Blumenthal followed up, “unqualifiedly pro-life?”
“So you are against a woman’s exercise of reproductive rights as guaranteed by the United States Consitution?” he pressed.
Vitter then emphasized yet again that “my religious, personal, political views, including the fact that, Senator, I am pro-life, I would set aside and follow the law.”
The level of scrutiny Vitter faced over her pro-life beliefs is reminiscent of the intense questioning President Trump's 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Coney Barrett faced from Democrats last year over her Catholic faith.