Many of us have known for years that the scientific community is not as pristine pure as they’d like the public to think; politics has long been alive and well at American universities and among the peer-review networks. It is still shocking, however, to discover that the White House has tampered with scientific findings.
The political official in charge of defending the partial-birth abortion act in federal court during the Bush administration, Shannen Coffin, described for National Review his discovery of documents released by the Clinton White House that show the apparent manipulation of a scientific report on partial-birth abortion by Elena Kagan, the nominee for the Supreme Court who is undergoing confirmation hearings this week.
If the reports are true – and there are hand-written notes that seem to indicate Kagan’s direct involvement in the deception – Kagan’s name should immediately be withdrawn from consideration for the Supreme Court and she should be disbarred and disgraced.
Here are the facts. A “select panel” of physician-members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional medical association that sponsors/conducts medical studies and publishes results, issued a report – with the professional credibility of ACOG behind it – that declared that the partial-birth abortion procedure “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”
That statement was used in numerous court cases as “official” medical opinion regarding the partial-birth abortion procedure.
Now we learn – thanks to Powerline blog and National Review – that ACOG’s original statement said exactly the opposite. Further, we learn – appallingly – that ACOG sent their findings to the Clinton White House for review prior to publishing the report. [Astounding. Can you imagine any scientific report being sent to a conservative politician for review and editing prior to publishing. The media would, rightly, be up in arms.] At the White House, the original statement was read by Elena Kagan, who was Clinton’s deputy assistant for domestic policy.
According to Powerline and National Review, Kagan was horrified that the report said “ACOG could identify no circumstances under which” partial-birth abortion “would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” Kagan apparently “took matters into her own hands” and, in her own handwriting, produced a draft suggesting that 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.”
ACOG produced a final statement utilizing Kagan’s version verbatim.
If these facts are, indeed, true, Kagan – a nominee for the Supreme Court – manipulated a scientific report to suit her political opinions and deliberately, as Powerline put it, “subverted what was supposed to be an objective scientific process.” And, ACOG was complicit in the distortion for political and self-serving reasons. As Powerline further said, “The federal courts were victimized by a gross deception and a perversion of both the scientific process and the judicial process, carried out, the evidence appears to show, by Elena Kagan.”
ACOG’s involvement in this deception is especially egregious. Their president at the time, Douglas W. Laube, was self-righteous in his statement of opposition to the Supreme Court decision in 2007 upholding the partial-birth abortion ban. His statement called the decision “shameful and incomprehensible” and lamented a situation where “scientific knowledge frequently takes a backseat to subjective opinion.”
Lesser scholars have lost their positions and their reputations for plagiarism or scientific distortion. Here a prestigious professional organization deliberately manipulates its findings to accommodate a political ideology and aligns itself with a lowly deputy in the Clinton White House to accomplish its ideological distortion. The false report is used in courts to continue an abhorrent, brutal practice that repels people of compassion and decency.
In the meantime, the woman behind such a pivotal lie sits in the catbird seat, practically assured confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice of the United States by complicit senators who control the nomination process – with dozens of television cameras recording her “charm” and practiced, vapid responses for future generations.
Will the Republican senators find the courage to stop such an outrageous nomination from proceeding? Will they quietly stand by while colleagues confirm someone who was willing to distort a scientific report to suit her purposes? Is this the caliber of person whose judgment will be considered high court “wisdom?”