March 2, 2009
Obama’s Choice of Sebelius Heats Up the Pro-life Battle
President Barack Obama has selected a pro-abortion Catholic governor, who has been told by her bishop not to present herself for communion, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Writing last year in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, discussed a meeting with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius where he told her “that someday she’s going to have to stand before God and account for her public service.”
The Catholics United/Catholics in Alliance/Catholic Democrats axis of Obama supporters immediately cheered the selection of Sebelius, with Catholics United having enough notice of the pick to put up a Web site called “Catholics for Sebelius.” The site presents a list of “Catholic leaders” supporting the nomination, including Doug Kmiec; Nicolas Cafardi; Margaret Steinfels, former editor of Commonweal; and Father Thomas Reese, former editor of America.
When Sebelius’s name was first floated for HHS, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, noted that almost every Obama appointee is pro-abortion, but the selection of Sebelius would create “a battle between those Catholics who are honestly pro-life, and those who feign a pro-life position while always embracing the likes of Sebelius.”
The battle may have already started. Obama’s Catholic supporters are definitely feeling confident, as they have attacked both Bishop Naumann and Donohue for their criticism of Governor Sebelius. They seem unconcerned with the recent wrist-slapping given Speaker Nancy Pelosi by Pope Benedict XVI at the private audience she requested in Rome, or the subsequent statement of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput that Pelosi should not present herself for communion.
Sebelius’s record on abortion refutes any attempt she or her supporters may make to soften her image. She has claimed to “have worked hard to ensure that abortions are rare, safe, and within the bounds of the law.” But Sebelius vetoed bills that would have created abortion safety regulations and protected women from being coerced into having abortions.
Most notoriously, Sebelius hosted a 2007 party honoring Wichita late-term abortionist George Tiller, who by his own account has performed over 60,000 abortions. Two months after the Sebelius party in Tiller’s honor, he was arrested and arraigned on 19 criminal counts for illegal late-term abortions.
Obama’s selection of Sebelius came the day after he rescinded the HHS “conscience exemption” put in place by the Bush administration. In December, Sec. Mike Leavitt announced a “right-to-refuse” rule allowing medical care personnel not to participate in practices they found morally objectionable, such as abortion.
As expected, the new Obama administration is removing, one by one, all the restrictions set up against abortion and its federal funding, that have been put in place since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Obama lifted the Mexico City policy only days after his inauguration, allowing federal dollars to be given to organizations performing abortions overseas.
Although the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has not yet been introduced, the strategy of the Obama administration appears to be pursuing the equivalent outcomes of FOCA without passing FOCA itself. Putting someone like Governor Sebelius at the helm of Health and Human Services will put tremendous pressure on all health-care institutions to provide abortions under the cover of “women’s health care.”
The first Catholic hospital system to bend to the pressure is Caritas Christi, owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Boston. Only a few days ago, maybe eager to cozy up to the Obama administration and Sebelius, Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with the Centene Corporation to join a state-mandated health-insurance program that would include coverage for abortion and contraceptives — what the Catholic hospital system calls “confidential family-planning services.”