Political Hay

Up Close and Personal

A local perspective on Kathleen Sebelius's abortion advocacy. 

By 4.3.09

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If all goes according to schedule, Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services late next week. This is a mistake.

HHS Secretary is one of the few positions in a presidential administration where one’s position on abortion can have a dramatic impact, and Sebelius is likely to enact policies that would make it easier to obtain an abortion for any reason -- and make taxpayers pay for it. For this reason, pro-life leaders are rightly concerned about Sebelius’ imminent confirmation.

Having served in the Kansas Senate during Sebelius' entire tenure, I've had the opportunity to observe her actions closely. What I've seen is a skilled and talented politician who loves engaging in reasonable rhetoric, yet has an overwhelmingly pro-abortion record.

As an example, when roach-infested conditions were discovered at an abortion clinic, Sebelius vetoed our bill to establish minimum sanitary standards at abortion clinics, claiming it would hurt other outpatient clinics. When we passed language to fund alternative services for women in crisis pregnancies, Sebelius vetoed our efforts -- until we obtained veto-proof support. And when we passed legislation to shield young women from being coerced into abortion and enhance parental notification, Sebelius also vetoed our efforts.

And even when numerous reports surfaced of maternal deaths in abortion clinics, Sebelius obstructed investigations by the Board of Healing Arts and law enforcement and again vetoed our efforts to establish clinic standards. She then hosted an expensive taxpayer-funded party in 2007 at the official governor’s mansion honoring four late-term abortionists: LeRoy Carhart, Shelley Sella, Susan Robinson -- and especially George Tiller.

Tiller is the abortionist recently acquitted of violating our late-term abortion laws -- but now is again under investigation by the Board of Healing Arts. And he is the abortionist with whom Sebelius coordinated nearly a million campaign dollars to target pro-life leaders for defeat -- including former Attorney General Phill Kline and former congressman Jim Ryun.

I'm not alone in finding her extreme positions disqualifying. She's also hearing about it from the Catholic Church. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has informed Governor Sebelius she "should stop receiving Communion until she publicly repudiates her support of abortion and makes a 'worthy sacramental confession.'" Sebelius, of course, claims to be "personally pro-life," but that is essentially the same intellectually dishonest position taken by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.

Sadly, too many Republican state legislators in Kansas have been complicit. On March 25, for example, I offered a successful amendment to the Kansas budget which would have effectively eliminated taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood. This would have forced Governor Sebelius to decide between defunding the largest abortion provider in the nation -- or vetoing this proviso as she nears her confirmation hearings. Sadly, only a day later, some Republicans stripped it from the bill. (But the good news is it will likely come back during the veto session in April.)

Still the pressure on Sebelius as she nears her confirmation hearings must have been intense, because late on March 27, she signed the Kansas "Right to Know Bill," which will allow women to see an ultrasound or hear a fetal heartbeat before obtaining an abortion.

This is, of course, merely a fig leaf, in the sense that it is a desperate attempt to cover up nearly a 30-year record of pro-abortion policies. Still, it will likely be enough to provide cover for her confirmation.

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About the Author

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, (KS-1), serves on the House Budget, Agriculture, and Veterans' Affairs committees.