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The Sebelius Challenge

George Weigel

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PPresident Obama's first choice for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services was former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle—a pro-abortion Catholic Democrat. President Obama's second choice for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius—another pro-abortion Catholic Democrat, with what some would consider a public record even more disturbing than Tom Daschle's.

The Sebelius nomination is fraught with danger on several fronts. The next secretary of HHS will be in a key position to shape policy on a number of crucial questions. Will conscience-rights protection for pro-life physicians and health-care workers be sustained, amended, or eliminated? Will over-the-counter abortifacients in the guise of "Plan B" contraceptives be available to minors without a doctor's prescription or counsel? Will the government continue to sanction the sale and use of RU-486, the "abortion pill" that has killed seven women since the Clinton administration rammed its approval through the Food and Drug Administration shortly before leaving office?

These issues are grave enough, both for physicians and for women's health. At the same time, there may be more than public policy at stake here. Vigorous, Internet-based support for Sebelius' nomination is already being offered by many of the same Catholic intellectuals who argued that Barack Obama was the real pro-life candidate in 2008.

And this, despite the fact that Kathleen Sebelius is an abortion radical by any reasonable definition of the term, whatever occasional gestures toward pro-life positions she has made. In her years as a state legislator in Kansas, for example, she voted to weaken or eliminate modest regulations of the abortion industry, including parental notification, informed consent, and "reflection periods" for women considering their options in a crisis pregnancy. Her record as governor since 2002 has been even more dramatic. A brief prepared by two respected lawyers, Clarke Forsythe and Denise Burke of Americans United for Life (on whose national board I serve), gathers the evidence...

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Read the entire article on the Ethics and Public Policy website (new window will open).

Posted: 23-Mar-2009



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