Kagan Hearings: Where are All the Anti-Abortion Activists?

As Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan begins her second week of confirmation hearings, Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer wonders why the anti-abortion protesters have been uncharacteristically subdued this time around. Normally, they live for these hearings. For hardcore anti-choice activists, a Supreme Court confirmation is like Christmas, Mardi Gras, and the World Cup all rolled into one.

Mencimer suspects that the antis were caught off guard by a revelation about Kagan’s role in shaping a proposed partial birth abortion ban. Documents show that as a White House policy adviser Kagan worked with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to craft the organization’s position on whether partial birth abortion is ever medically necessary.

ACOG and “partial birth abortion”

ACOG originally wrote that its experts “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” In short, ACOG dodged the question. As far as a health exemption is concerned, the question is whether this procedure is ever the best option, not the only option.

The right is accusing Kagan of distorting science for political reasons. In fact, Kagan didn’t distort the science at all. Like any good law professor, she suggested that ACOG restate the same idea in language that was more germane to the question at hand. It seems unlikely that the ACOG revelation will have a significant effect on Kagan’s confirmation prospects.

ACOG told Kagan that the procedure is almost never medically necessary. The key words here are “almost never,” which imply that the procedure is sometimes necessary. Documents show that Kagan urged ACOG to clarify its position.

She suggested the following language, which ACOG incorporated into its position statement: “[the procedure] may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” This episode is a sore point for anti-choicers because the courts have deferred to ACOG’s opinions on questions of medical necessity.

According to Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly, the Republicans are still trying to derail Kagan’s nomination by painting her as evasive. It’s already a cliche to point out that Supreme Court confirmation hearings are a charade in which the nominee’s job is to reveal as little as possible about her judicial philosophy.

Republicans are unlikely to summon much public outrage against Kagan for playing by the rules. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kagan next Tuesday, and the leadership wants a full vote before Aug 6.

Ending the CPC bait-and-switch

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has re-introduced a bill to stop false advertising by so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), as Noelle Williams reports for Ms. Magazine‘s blog. CPCs are anti-abortion propaganda outlets (“ministries”) that try to pass themselves off as storefront women’s health clinics. Some CPCs advertise in the abortion services section of the phone book alongside real providers. They’ve even been known to set up shop across the street from a real clinic.

The phony “clinics” lure women with promises of free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and referrals for abortion and contraception services—but that’s just a prelude to a hard sell against abortion. A Congressional investigation found that CPCs routinely give false information about the dangers of abortion. Maloney’s bill would end the bait-and-switch. The Stop Deceptive Advertising Women’s Services Act (SDAW) would crack down CPCs that falsely advertise that they provide abortion services or referrals.

Contraceptives covered under health reform?

Thanks to health care reform, insurers may soon be offering contraceptives at no extra cost. However, as Monica Potts notes at TAPPED, the women’s groups clamoring for free birth control are facing an uphill battle against the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other conservative groups. The USCCB is trotting out the old line that contraceptives aren’t preventative health care because fertility is not a disease. Potts notes the age old irony that groups so fiercely opposed to abortion are still fighting birth control.

UN addresses gender equity

In international news, the United Nations announced the launch of a new umbrella agency to promote women’s rights and gender equity. Vanessa Valenti of Feministing explains that the UN is actually merging four existing women’s rights bodies into a single organization. Valenti is concerned that local concerns will get lost in a new monolithic bureaucracy. However, she notes that the groups in the merger seem very happy about the prospect of joining forces.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

Photo used under Creative Commons License via Flickr with thanks to Fibonacci Blue

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Lynn C.
Lynn C7 years ago

Oh yes...like every other part of her existence. Thank God for the man and women trying to address these issues.

Heather A.
Heather A7 years ago

Well then, Marla, I'm glad I put "silly myth" near the end of my post. Fetal brain waves at 6 weeks are a myth, though, and when you consider how underdeveloped the fetal brain is at that point, it is a very silly myth.

Thanks for checking out the sites, however.

Tony Co
Tony C7 years ago

David Bess wrote me. If you do not believe the Judeo Holy Bible is the true word of God, then you are BLIND! Further more, King David said [to God] "You knit me together in my Mothers Womb........."
This is my answer
Here are a few things taken from the bible and their possible interpretation. Take a look with an open mind and ask yourself if the bible was really written by a Loving God or man. I wanted to see for myself if you had a valid point. so I looked it up on the internet.



Marla Ferguson
Marla Ferguson7 years ago

Heather A. - you're right. I didn't bother to look, because I honestly would never think that anyone would be happy or proud of their abortion. Pretty sad if you ask me...

Would love to play this game with you, but you lost me at "silly myth". Clearly, I was mistaken that we woman are all nurturers...

Tricia H.
Tricia Hamilton7 years ago

Where are you people when the child is born? Welfare, Adoption, Abuse, Where are you people?

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

To monica r.: You may not believe that you have a CHOICE, after becoming pregnant, but, thank god, I do and so do many other women.

Unfortunately, I will not live to see a pregnant man. I would love to hear anyone tell a male person, that he had to continue an unwanted pregnancy to term.

monica r.
monica r7 years ago

Please stop harping on "a woman's right to control her own body"! Once you're pregnant, it's past time to "control" your own body. Now someone else's little tiny body is at issue.

Why don't you care about the baby woman (ok,or man) you are aborting? Clearly she gets NO say over HER own body. So the rights (or convenience) of an adult woman has more weight than the individual life of an unborn woman. That is hypocrisy.

Pease don't jump down my throat about saving the mother's life. In the vast majority of abortions it is a choice based on convenience or a preference not to have a kid, shame/stigma (unwed or teens), or economics (not always, reality is, a baby can mean you get a check), but rarely life-or-death. I think that other options than abortion should be presented to women more. For those facing that decision, my heart and prayers go out to them. How sad.

For the record, I am pro-life, pro-adoption (including by gays), anti-war, anti-violence, don't kill or eat animals, active in environmental causes, anti-gun, anti-racism, and work with at-risk kids (so yes, I care about them once they are born, too), and I think sex-ed is a good idea, and support for mothers who don't have resources of health care/child care should be provided for the health of her and her child if she chooses to keep it. I know, I totally screw up the stereotypes.....

Life begins at conception, but it doesn't end at birth!
Respect all life.

Lynn Marie M.
Lynn Marie M7 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

Amalthea Lalaith
Amalthea Lalaith7 years ago

I haven't been silent. I have written to my representatives to oppose Kegan on the basis of her views on abortion.

Why the attacks and lies about crises pregnancy centers? I thought pro-"choice"ers wanted women to have a choice? That's why there are both abortion clinics and crises pregnancy centers in this free country we call America. I can't speak for all pregnancy centers, but I have volunteered for my local one and it says specifically on its website "We are not an abortion provider and cannot refer for abortions" There's nothing deceptive and underhanded about it. They also do good for the community. They offer free parenting classes, counseling, pregnancy tests and help single moms get jobs. They really aren't as evil as pro-choicers make them out to be.
Just as Planned Parenthood isn't all evil like pro-lifers claim. I'm not saying I agree with them or the fact they preform abortions- I don't. But they also provide low income women with free birth control and gynos.

Maryann Tamayo
Maryann tamayo7 years ago

Abortion is takeing of a life . At any time ,or way.