Last night, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, it was clear to me that Elena Kagan’s testimony this week further confirmed what AUL’s research had indicated, namely that Elena Kagan is a political operative who would oppose even the most widely accepted protections for unborn human life. (Read my full testimony at the AUL Blog.)
I urged the committee to “to officially investigate the discrepancies that have arisen this week between Ms. Kagan’s testimony and the written record about her actions related to lobbying the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists during her tenure in the Clinton White House.” The questions surrounding this period “are troubling and call into question Ms. Kagan’s ability to adopt an impartial judicial temperament.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) expressed concern about Kagan’s efforts to manipulate leading medical organizations to change their statements on partial-birth abortion. He agreed that Kagan’s communication with ACOG — suggesting that it rewrite its statement on partial-birth abortion, and ACOG’s subsequent statement change to reflect the exact language Kagan advised — raises questions. “Her statements [on the ACOG memos] seem quite cryptic,” he told me.
It wasn’t just the ACOG situation that was a concern, I emphasized, but also the pattern of behavior demonstrated by similar efforts Kagan made to influence the American Medical Association. We know that after the AMA had issued an opinion that partial-birth abortion was not medically necessary, Kagan spearheaded an effort to influence the organization to retool its statement.
Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) also questioned me on this issue, recalling that Kagan testified before the committee that, in her memos regarding the partial-birth abortion issue, she did not provide input into the debate. Rather, Senator Sessions noted, Kagan said she was only trying to make sure that her boss President Clinton’s views were carried forward.
I pointed to the counsel Kagan gave to Clinton after she found he was willing to support a weaker ban on partial-birth abortion. Kagan told the president that she believed that even a ban on the procedure in pre-viability cases would be unconstitutional. Kagan’s attitude, I told the committee, is particularly concerning because the ban on partial-birth abortion is among the abortion regulations most supported by the American people. Yet, Kagan stated that such a ban — which the Supreme Court has since upheld — would be unconstitutional
“The Solicitor General has demonstrated a real hostility to commonsense regulations on abortion,” I told Senator Sessions — one that would take abortion rights far beyond even the broad permission given by Roe v. Wade. “Even scholars who support abortion rights agree that Roe v. Wade represents more of a policy agenda than something that’s in the Constitution.” (For example, Laurence Tribe wrote immediately following the Roe v. Wade decision, “One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”)
Kagan’s apparent attempts to manipulate not one but two noted medical organizations at the expense of unborn lives and women’s health paints the picture of a nominee whose passion for the pro-abortion agenda would completely impair her ability to impartially interpret the law on this and other issues that matter to Americans.
The Senate needs to investigate her record on partial-birth-abortion lobbying, and I urged them to do this.
As I left the hearing, I was reminded how much research we all do when we look into purchasing a car, a home, or something else of great importance in our lives. That’s just part of being responsible, it’s what all of our parents taught us — know what you are getting into, do your homework.
If Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, she will be on the bench for decades making decisions that will affect all of us. With so many outstanding questions, our elected representatives need to take the time to know what they are getting all of us into.
– Dr. Charmaine Yoest is president and CEO of Americans United for Life.