Elena Kagan on Abortion



Don't require admitting privileges for abortionists

The Supreme Court blocked Louisiana from enforcing a law that women's groups said would leave only a single doctor legally allowed to perform abortions in the state. By a 5-4 vote, the court said the restrictions must remain on hold while challengers appeal a lower court decision in favor of the law.

The vote signaled that a majority of the justices have doubts about the constitutionality of the LA law, which requires any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Plaintiffs argued that it was identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, in which the court said Texas imposed an obstacle on women seeking access to abortion services without providing them any medical benefits. It was the most important abortion ruling in 25 years and blocked similar restrictions in AL, MS, OK, TN, and WI.

Plaintiffs said Louisiana's law would leave only one doctor at a single clinic in New Orleans to perform the procedure

Source: NBC News on 2019 SCOTUS case: "June Medical vs. Louisiana" , Feb 7, 2019

Compromise on abortion if core rights & exceptions upheld

Some progressives worry that Elena Kagan would shift the Supreme Court to the right. Several Democrats on the Hill said they're confident that her background working in the Clinton and Obama administrations--and for left-leaning judges--means she'd be a strong liberal voice on the bench.

Some abortion-rights activists are worried about a memo Kagan authored in 1997 urging President Bill Clinton to support a compromise ban on late-term abortions to avoid a standoff with Republicans in Congress. But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a leader in Congress for abortion rights, said that the compromise included an exception in cases where a mother's health was in danger. "That was definitely something that everybody had supported at that time," Boxer said.

Asked what gave her assurances that Kagan would uphold Roe v. Wade, Boxer said: "I have no reason to think anything else except that she would be a very strong supporter of privacy rights because everyone she worked for held that view."

Source: Politico.com, "Democrat's Democrat", on 2010 SCOTUS hearings , May 11, 2010

Health exceptions for partial-birth abortion ban

In a memo addressing a partial-birth abortion ban before Congress, Kagan urged President Bill Clinton to endorse the weaker of two proposed exceptions for the health of the mother. [Clinton ultimately vetoed the bill that was passed.]