Hatch Asked, But Did Kagan Tell?

Conservatives are clearly unhappy with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s testimony today about her role in revising the influential American College Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists (ACOG) 1996 policy paper on partial-birth abortion. Ed Morrissey compares Kagan’s answer to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to a comic TV character:

In other words, it’s more or less an Urkel defense of saying, “Did I do that?”  Kagan seemed ill prepared to discuss the memo, despite the debate that has erupted since yesterday over its meaning.  When she did discuss it, she did so in an evasive manner.

Kagan’s evasion also bothered Shannen Coffin:

After [a special ACOG task force on the partial-birth issue] deliberated in October 1996, the task force forwarded its draft statement to the ACOG board. It was only then that Kagan stepped in to suggest changes.
Therefore, any suggestion that her work was merely the synthesis of the task force’s deliberations doesn’t account for that time line — she had no interaction with the task force itself, only the executive board of ACOG.

Philip Klein of the American Spectator provides a transcript of the exchange between Hatch and Kagan, including this:

HATCH: But did you write it? Is that your memo?

KAGAN: The document is certainly in my handwriting. I don’t know whether the document is a product of a conversation I had with [ACOG] … And we tried over course of the period of time when this statute was being considered actually twice, to get him absolutely the best medical evidence on this subject possible. . . .. There was conflicting evidence, and we tried to do our best to bring all the evidence, all the conflicting views, to his attention. In the course of that, we did indeed speak with ACOG. ACOG had an interest in this statute, and ACOG had views about this statute. . . . There did come a time when we saw a draft statement . . . . And I had some discussions with ACOG about that [paragraph describing the possible medical necessity of partial-birth abortion].

The problem here is why the Clinton White House had any input at all on the content of a policy statement that was supposed to reflect the medical and scientific findings of the ACOG task force. Why was ACOG sending its draft report to administration officials?

The Judiciary Committee just reconvened after a lunch break, and further questions on this issue are expected. Click here to see the latest updates on the Kagan hearings.