Elena Kagan, as an aide to President Bill Clinton, took a lead role in fighting a Republican bill to limit abortion, at one point working to change an outside group’s statement that she said would be a “disaster.”
Documents released today by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library showed that Kagan in 1996 and 1997 immersed herself in both the legal and political aspects of the fight over a procedure opponents termed partial-birth abortion. Senators are now considering President Barack Obama’s nomination of Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In one set of documents, Kagan laid out alternative phrasing for a draft statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Although the medical group said the procedure should be an option, the draft statement also said that an expert panel couldn’t find any situation under which the method was the only way to save a woman’s life or health.
Though a leader of the American Medical Association wrote in 1997 "we all agree" that partial-birth abortion "is not good medicine," Kagan ignored the medical experts and asserted that doctors should nonetheless be able to perform abortions on mostly-delivered infants:
“Given the state of medical evidence on this subject, an exception for women who need the procedure to prevent serious harm is appropriate. Such an exception would enable the attending doctor -- the person with the most relevant knowledge -- to make the complex decision whether the procedure is in fact medically necessary in a given set of circumstances.”
Kagan supported Tom Daschle's bill to outlaw late-term abortions, but that legislation would have done nothing to limit abortions.
Nik Nelson is a National Journalism Center intern at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.