The Spectacle Blog

Clinton Files Show Kagan Advocated Cloning for Human Research

By on 6.10.10 | 6:05AM

White House memos from 1997, when Elena Kagan was a top domestic policy advisor to President Clinton, show that Kagan -- nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama -- recommended that the Clinton administration permit cloning of human embryos for research purposes.

Writing just months after Scottish researchers had announced the birth of a cloned sheep, Kagan and another Clinton aide recommended that the president announce a ban on cloning that would lead to the birth of human infants, but emphasized that the policy "would not ban the creation of cloned embryos for research purposes."

The policy advocated by Kagan and Clinton science advisor Jack Gibbons was based on recommendations from the National Bioethics Advisory Committee (NBAC) that Clinton had established. The Kagan documents (which the Clinton Presidental Library now has online in PDF format) are the subject of a report that the pro-life group Americans United for Life is circulating today to conservative organizations. The AUL report states:

Memoranda and emails released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on Friday document Kagan’s involvement in crafting an anti-life position and legislative proposal. . . .
Kagan’s involvement in cloning policy was not limited to writing memos. Over the course of several months, she was in frequent dialogue with other administration officials about the content of Clinton’s legislative language, which Congressional proposals they should support or oppose, and how much they could work with Senate Republicans. While most of the emails in the file are written to Kagan, it is clear that she led an administration cloning meeting in March 1998 and was asked to provide specific advice about the President’s legislation and Statements of Administration Policy (SAP).
The Administration’s position, which Kagan was deeply involved in constructing, is unethical and would be more accurately characterized as “pseudo-science”. While Kagan and the Clinton administration tried to create a distinction between cloning humans to be used in research and cloning humans for live-birth, there are not two distinct forms of human cloning. These are simply two rationales for the same scientific procedure, known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer.”

More information about the Kagan cloning memos is available at the Web site of AUL, which has in recent weeks emerged as a leading opponent of the Kagan nomination

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