Kagan Pushed to Ban Late-Term Abortions in '97

Told Clinton that otherwise he risked GOP veto
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2010 7:04 AM CDT
Updated May 11, 2010 7:50 AM CDT
Kagan Pushed to Ban Late-Term Abortions in '97
Elena Kagan listens to law professor Charles Fried, left, alongside law professor John F. Manning, right, on Harvard's campus in Cambridge, Mass in this file photo.   (Jon Chase)

As a White House adviser in 1997, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan urged then-President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions, a political compromise that put the administration at odds with abortion rights groups, according to documents reviewed by the AP. Kagan told Clinton that if he didn't ban all abortions on viable fetuses, except when the physical health of the mother was in danger, he'd risk having the Republican-led Congress override his veto on an even stricter ban.

The documents from Clinton's presidential library are among the first to surface in which Kagan weighs in on the thorny issue of abortion. But "judges confront issues differently than staff attorneys for an administration," a White House spokesman cautioned. Indeed, the memo is more of a political calculation than a legal brief, but Kagan and her boss Bruce Reed urged Clinton to support the compromise despite noting that the Justice Department believed the proposal was unconstitutional. (Read more Elena Kagan stories.)

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