Memo Misread: Elena Kagan Did Not Tell Clinton to Back Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Memo Misread: Elena Kagan Did Not Tell Clinton to Back Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 11
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — To hear mainstream media outlets like the Associated Press and Washington Post tell the story, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once urged President Bill Clinton to back a ban on partial-birth or late-term abortions. The take from the stories is that Kagan’s rock solid pro-abortion views aren’t that strong.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Post indicates "activists on both the left and the right seek to better understand how the solicitor general might rule on a right to privacy [read: unlimited abortion] if she is confirmed to the court."

"The answer to that question got a little bit clearer late Monday afternoon as the Associated Press reported on what it said was a 1997 memorandum authored by Kagan during the time she advised then-President Bill Clinton," the newspaper continued.

AP reports on a May 13, 1997 memo that the Post claims was a "compromise ban on late-term abortions: put forward by pro-abortion former Sen. Tom Daschle.

"We recommend that you endorse the Daschle amendment in order to sustain your credibility on HR 1122 and prevent Congress from overriding your veto," Kagan and her boss, Bruce Reed, wrote in the memo.

The Post responds that the "revelation may help to mute right-wing groups who often use support for abortion rights as a way of attacking a nominee." Yet, the opposite is more likely when the full case is presented.

The Daschle measure was an attempt to draw attention from the partial-birth abortion ban that the Senate eventually approved on a 64-36 vote margin.

The legislation, which purported to ban late-term abortions, would never have prevented a single one because of a health exception similar to the one that has allowed Roe v. Wade to result in 52 million unfettered abortions.

Further, pro-life groups issued strong condemnations of the Daschle bill the Post and AP tout as a "compromise" measure.

Before passing the authentic ban, the Senate rejected the Daschle bill, which National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson called at the time a "killer substitute amendment."

"NRLC is strongly opposed to the ‘phony ban’ currently being promoted by President Clinton, by Senator Tom Daschle, and by certain of their allies in the media," Johnson said then. "The Clinton-Daschle proposal is an empty shell. It is a purely political contrivance. It has one purpose: to provide political cover for lawmakers who want to appear to their constituents to have voted to restrict partial-birth abortions, but without in any way offending the extreme pro-abortion lobby."

Johnson continued that the "Clinton-Daschle proposal was designed to look good on paper, and to fool unwary journalists, but in no way to impose the slightest actual impediment to the unfettered ability of abortionists to perform the procedures."

Because of the health exception and because the bill did not apply until after viability, Johnson wrote at the time that "under the Clinton-Daschle phony ban, the 4,000 or more partial-birth abortions performed on healthy babies of healthy mothers, in the fifth and six months of pregnancy, will continue with no limitation at all."

The Senate went on to reject the Daschle substitute by a 64-36 vote and Johnson’s prediction that the Daschle bill would provide political cover in the media for abortion advocates like Clinton — or Obama and Kagan — continues.

Related web sites:
Petition Against Kagan –
Facebook: Stop Kagan

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.