The Corner

Kagan on Partial-Birth Abortion

Via Jennifer Rubin, I see that Elena Kagan advised the Clinton White House to support the “Daschle compromise” on partial-birth abortion. I wouldn’t make too much of this, because the Daschle compromise was not a meaningful concession to pro-lifers.

It applied only after viability, thus exempting most partial-birth abortions. It allowed post-viability abortions if “the continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life or risk grievous injury to her physical health.” The restriction sounds tight but isn’t, because “threaten” and “risk” do not come with any adverbs attached. Dr. Warren Hern, a major practitioner of partial-birth abortion, said at the time, “I will certify that any pregnancy is a threat to a woman’s life and could cause grievous injury to her physical health.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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