Yesterday I wrote about Shannen Coffin’s fine reporting on Elena Kagan’s apparent manipulation of testimony that convinced the Supreme Court to strike down a Nebraska law banning partial-birth abortion. Today, we have a look at the actual evidence. Here is the screen shot that Coffin took of the edits made by Kagan to the statement from the ACOG on partial-birth abortion:
Note the deletion of the word “not” in the original statement, which originally read (emphasis mine), “This procedure, however, may not be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and the doctor should be allowed to make this determination.” However, even with that edit, the doctors’ statement did seem to indicate support for the partial-birth abortion position, as does the subsequent sentence in the original statement, which is almost entirely a restatement of the first:
“A doctor, however, may determine whether this procedure is the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”
In that sentence, Kagan wants to replace “may” with “must be allowed to,” a much stronger statement of principle than ACOG had made on their own. Kagan also indulges in some term-swapping by replacing the dry and clinical “procedure” with the even more dry and clinical “intact D & X,” which stands for “dilation and extraction” of the baby. It’s a sales job, attempting to replace the descriptive and accurate “partial-birth abortion” with medical jargon.
None of these changes seem to change the basic thrust of the ACOG argument, but they do show that Kagan was deeply involved in selling this as a much stronger statement than ACOG first produced — the better to manipulate the courts. It’s not a lie, and may not even breach ethical canons for lawyers working as advocates for a cause. They do, however, call into question Kagan’s ability to be independent and her judgment as a potential jurist, and Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee should be asking Kagan to explain herself in today’s hearing.
Update: Human Events says get ready for this to come up in the next round of questions:
Republican Senators are “fully expected . . . to make an issue of this an iussue int he second round of questions this afternoon,” a Senate source tells Human Events, referring to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s reported involvement in drafting a1996 document on partial-birth abortion. …
The first round of questioning ended about 11 a.m. ET, and Senate Republicans appeared “very interested” in the questions raised by Shannen Coffin’s report atNational Review, the first source said.
Stay tuned! (via Stacy McCain)