There’s a lot that people don’t know about sex therapist and sexual evangelist Doctor Ruth Westheimer. The 4’7” Holocaust survivor was a sniper in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. She maintains one of the best Twitters in existence. She is quadrilingual. And one of her early jobs was as a researcher at Planned Parenthood.
In fact, she told outgoing Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards last week that she credits her time at Planned Parenthood for her initial interest in studying sex. “Planned Parenthood is a very important part of my professional life,” the 89 year-old told Richards. “My granddaughter Leora actually worked for Planned Parenthood last summer.”
So it is surprising that Wendy Vitter, the Trump nominee for a lifelong term on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, deflected questions during her congressional hearing by reminiscing about her use of a Dr. Ruth quote.
Vitter was asked by California Senator Kamala Harris whether a quote she cited at an appearance in 2010 would apply to her belief that life begins at conception. “In a 2010 speech,” said Harris, “You asked the audience to be ‘turtles’ and ‘stick out’ their necks and ‘fight for the things that matter…as a judge are you suggesting you would stick out your neck and fight for pro-life cases?” Vitter ignored the question and chuckled to Harris “that’s a well known commencement speech and I forgot who said it — I think that might be Dr. Ruth Westheimer who said that!”
This is surprising because Vitter has taken an active role in the anti-abortion movement. It’s surprising because Vitter once led a panel at which literature was distributed claiming that contraception has been shown to cause “violent death” and adultery, a topic that also came up at the hearing. And it’s surprising because Vitter said this, at a speech in 2013:
Planned Parenthood says they promote women’s health. It is the saddest of ironies that they kill over 150,000 females a year.
Vitter, who famously mocked Hillary Clinton for forgiving her husband’s sex scandal and was later revealed to have forgiven her own husband’s solicitation of a prostitute, should know by now how to use the word “irony.” For example, isn’t it ironic to use a progressive sex therapist and former Planned Parenthood employee’s quote to promote anti-choice views? Don’t you think?
You can watch Wendy Vitter chuckle about Dr. Ruth and refuse to state that she agrees with the Brown V Board of Education decision here:
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny