(UPDATED) Pro-Choice House Leader Calls on Senate to Question Kagan on Abortion Memo, Commitment

Jodi Jacobson

UPDATED: Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, head of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Kagan on her commitment to the right to choose and on her "troubling" memo written for President Clinton.

The Associated Press reports that Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has called on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fully question Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan about her position on the issue of a woman’s right to choose whether and when to bear a child.

AP reporter Julie Hirschfeld David writes that Slaughter, head of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Slaughter “views as ‘troubling’ — her word — a 1997 memo Kagan wrote urging then- President Bill Clinton to back a ban on late-term abortions.”

Slaughter wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and the panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, on Tuesday.

The letter, obtained by Rewire, states:

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As we do not have a judicial record to review for Solicitor General Kagan, it is imperative that the Senate Judiciary Committee fully question the nominee with respect to women’s rights.  The emergence of a memorandum co-authored by Solicitor General Kagan during her time as a White House aide during the Clinton Administration regarding abortion is troubling. As Co Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I urge you and the committee to keep the constitutional right to choose at the forefront of your minds as you question Solicitor General Kagan.

This is particularly important, Slaughter continued, “following the contentious debate regarding federal funding for abortion leading up to the historic passage of health care reform.”

In a press release Congresswoman Slaughter, one of the longest-serving female members of Congress, also said:

“It’s impossible to overstate how important it is for this country to protect a women’s right to choose. Many of our rights were eroded during the previous Administration and the vote earlier this year on health care reform exposed the efforts to play politics with the rights of women. For that reason, it’s especially important that the next Supreme Court justice take a strong position on protecting a women’s right to choose. It’s my hope that the Senate will respectfully ask Elena Kagan for her views on this critical topic.”

Rewire earlier reported on this memo here.

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