Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the nation’s most pro-abortion governor, is President Obama’s new choice to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the largest of the government agencies and the one handling most of the nation’s social conservative policy issues.
Like President Obama, Mrs. Sebelius has embraced pro-life rhetoric in an attempt to camouflage her radical record on the abortion issue. When faced with a choice between abortion rights and other women’s rights, Sebelius generally backed the women’s rights position, thus seeming to reject a pro-abortion position. When Sebelius vetoed legislation requiring disclosure on information from providers of late-term abortions, her colleagues suggested that she feared the legislation would compromise women’s medical privacy. She signed a bill, commonly called “Alexa’s Law,” that would criminalize violence on a fetus; she also signed a bill requiring abortion providers to submit fetal tissue samples when the mother is younger than 14 years of age. Republicans in Kansas explain that the governor signed the legislation only because it was part of a mega package containing other legislation that she supported.
Her record is important because at HHS, Gov. Sebelius would in be charge of health care concerns, with influence on federal and state policies on a wide variety of controversial issues, including abortion policies, parental notification, conscience rights protections, and destructive embryonic stem cell research. She has taken extreme positions on preventing third-term abortions and protection against born alive abortions. Sebelius has been criticized for vetoing “every piece of legislation aimed at a ‘woman’s right to know’ about abortions, including legislation on statistical reporting and on requiring women to look at sonograms before going through with the procedure.” In addition, Sebelius was endorsed by Planned Parenthood, and they conducted fundraising campaigns for her election.
As pointed out by Clarke D. Forsythe and Denise M. Burke, two distinguished lawyers with Americans United for Life, Gov. Sebelius has vetoed late-term abortion measures requiring medical reasons for late-term abortions, requiring abortion providers to report the diagnosis that necessitated a late-term abortion, and permitting injunctive relief for illegal late-term abortions or additional legal support in prosecuting violations of the prohibitions against late-term abortions. Last year she vetoed important specifics that strengthened the parental notification laws. Earlier she cold-heartedly vetoed legislation that would have strengthened abortion accountability, including cleaning up shockingly unsanitary conditions in Kansas abortion clinics.
Forsythe and Burke also note the Governor’s cozy relationship with late-term abortionist George Tiller. Tiller, along with 25 of his friends and employees, and Nebraskan abortionist LeRoy Carhart, were honored at the Governor’s Mansion in April 2007. John Hanna, an Associated Press reporter, documented the event with photographs. Tiller faces 19 counts of illegally performing late-term abortions, with his trial set for March 16. Sebelius appointed one of Tiller’s outspoken supporters, John Carmichael, to the Human Rights Commission, though she quietly withdrew the nomination later. She appointed Howard Ellis, another abortionist, to the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, even though he had surrendered his medical license in Missouri rather than face disciplinary charges. Ellis resigned and shortly thereafter was charged with trying to persuade a physician to falsify records.
Mrs. Sebelius is also the daughter of a governor; her father, John Gilligan, is former governor of Ohio. A popular Democrat in a longtime red state, Sebelius has the support of both the GOP senators from Kansas, Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback. She will have the support of the Democrats in Congress, as well as that of the two senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who are pro-abortion Republicans.
No doubt, both the president and Mrs. Sebelius will trumpet the fact that the abortion rate in Kansas declined during her term in office and that it declined more than the national rate during that time (14 percent decline in Kansas to 9 percent decline nationally). As I noted earlier, Governor Sebelius has talked the pro-life talk, and she signed some pro-life legislation while governor of Kansas, but her record is overwhelmingly pro-abortion; as she said in the Wichita Eagle, “certain inalienable rights are not applied in utero.” Obviously, President Obama will choose an HHS Secretary who supports his positions, but one has to wonder why he would appoint back-to-back HHS nominees with such controversial abortion records. With Sebelius, he will have a fight on his hands that will give the pro-life movement good experience and perhaps a strong victory before the battle over his first Supreme Court nominee sometime in the next three years.