TOPEKA, Kan. — Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s choice for secretary of Health and Human Services, likes to say she’s Catholic.
But the Democratic governor of Kansas supports abortion, and her political foes say she may be among the most pro-abortion high-level politicians in government.
They blame her for helping maintain Kansas as one of the easiest places in the world to obtain an abortion, all the way through full gestation.
As secretary of Health and Human Services, part of Sebelius’ job would involve the administration of federal funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses.
“If the abortion industry wants more federal money, they could not have asked for a better advocate than Kathleen Sebelius,” said former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, a law professor at Liberty University in Virginia and a nondenominational Protestant.
The Senate Finance Committee voted 15-8 April 21 in favor of sending the nomination to the full Senate for approval. Only two of 10 committee Republicans favored the appointment, with the eight opponents of Sebelius citing concerns about her close ties with late-term abortionist George Tiller.
Since her election in 2002, Sebelius has scandalized Catholics and other pro-lifers in Kansas and throughout the United States. In December 2002, former Archbishop James Patrick Keleher admonished Sebelius in The Leaven, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., writing that she “is at odds with our Catholic faith on that most fundamental moral issue of respect for the right to life of the unborn.”
Said Kline: “She is radically pro-abortion, to say the least. There is just no other way to look at it. If being Catholic means adhering to the sanctity of life, then her status as a Catholic is a deception.”
Kline came to national prominence for his efforts to prosecute Tiller. He said Sebelius, who appointed enough pro-abortion state Supreme Court justices to comprise a majority, used every political and legal maneuver imaginable to protect Tiller in his business of performing late-term abortions in violation of state requirements that they be ruled medically necessary by two physicians.
Kline said Sebelius also worked to protect Planned Parenthood from his efforts to require the organization to report statutory rape to authorities, as required by Kansas law.
“At one time, I was looking at 130 abortions performed on children in Kansas, and only five had been reported to the SRS (Social and Rehabilitative Services),” Kline said. “We knew of 11-year-old girls who had received abortions, and nobody called the police. Kathleen Sebelius used every tool she had to keep it that way — and to prevent me from enforcing the law.”
Multiple calls to Sebelius’ press office and messages left for gubernatorial spokesman Seth Bundy were not returned. Requests for comment from the White House press office were also unreturned.
Earl Glynn, a Catholic who runs a website devoted to “investigative research on Kansas government and politics,” helped run Kline’s 2002 campaign for attorney general. Sebelius became a subject of interest to him after he began investigating Tiller.
“In 2002, I needed an explanation as to why the campaign was so close,” said Glynn, who works today as a scientific programmer in the medical industry. “Phill was supposed to walk away with that election. As it turned out, he won by less than one-half of a percent. There had been all these TV commercials supporting his opponent, a pro-abortion Catholic who sort of came out of nowhere. I found that George Tiller had spent $300,000 trying to defeat Phill.”
Though various reports have surfaced regarding the amount of money Tiller has spent in recent years supporting Sebelius, Glynn said most of it has been done in a manner that doesn’t trace directly back to Sebelius.
For example: Tiller and his abortion business channeled $120,000 to the Democratic Governors Association that may have made it back to the Kansas Democratic Party in 2005 and 2006 in a complicated transaction. Because of the fungible nature of money, however, direct links cannot usually be proven.
Glynn has verified $38,450 in contributions directly from Tiller to Sebelius, including $15,450 when she ran for insurance commissioner and $23,000 given to Sebelius’ Bluestem Fund Political Action Committee prior to her run for governor. He prepared a 64-page PowerPoint presentation about Sebelius and her ties with Tiller and the abortion industry that can be seen at: http://KansasMeadowlark.com/2009/03/03/sebelius-tiller-prokando/.
Karl Peterjohn, a Sedgwick County commissioner in Wichita and a former state lobbyist, grew up in Ohio when Sebelius’ father, John Gilligan, was governor in the early 1970s.
“She grew up in a very politically savvy family, and she learned a lot from John Gilligan,” Peterjohn said. “She’s very liberal — very much a John Kerry/Nancy Pelosi-style Catholic — and has routinely opposed a state resolution praising Ronald Reagan on his birthday. She is absolutely one of the most pro-abortion politicians serving at a high level in government. While she has been governor, George Tiller has had the run of the governor’s mansion, and he has been able to hold events there.”
Signed One Pro-Life Bill
Kathy Ostrowski, state legislative director of Kansans for Life, said Sebelius has vetoed nearly every piece of pro-life legislation to cross her desk, with the exception of a recent bill that requires abortion businesses to offer each customer an ultrasound within 30 minutes of an abortion.
Ostrowski said Sebelius vetoed a similar bill in 2008, but agreed to sign a diluted version in advance of her confirmation hearing. The bill she vetoed included enhanced protections for minors seeking abortions, including stricter reporting requirements pertaining to statutory rape.
As she awaited confirmation in the U.S. Senate, she had to decide whether to sign or veto a bill that would require late-term abortion providers to report to state health officials the specific medical diagnoses used the justify the otherwise illegal procedure.
“She has fought pro-life measures behind the scenes and center stage,” Ostrowski said. “She is pro-abortion through and through. Her political career has been funded with abortion money, and she has an entirely pro-abortion record. Nearly all of her major appointments are people who are pro-abortion. Her most recent appointment to the state’s medical board is Myra Christopher, who heads the Center for Practical Bioethics.” That’s a Kansas City, Mo., pro-stem-cell research and pro-euthanasia organization. Ostrowksi said Christopher was also a Planned Parenthood advisor.
After Sebelius vetoed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act in 2008, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., said the governor’s veto “demonstrated a lack of respect to the members of the Kansas General Assembly who had carefully crafted and resoundingly passed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, as well as to the many Kansans who find it more than an embarrassment.”
The bill Archbishop Naumann referred to would have strengthened restrictions on late-term abortions in Kansas.
“She vetoed this reasonable abortion bill because she is unreasonably indebted to the Kansas abortion industry,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, as quoted by the Baptist Press.
Archbishop Naumann explained that he had met several times in “many months to discuss with her the grave spiritual and moral consequences of her public actions by which she has cooperated in the procurement of abortions performed in Kansas.”
Though Sebelius’ radical pro-abortion stance seems apparent to two bishops and all pro-life activists in Kansas, political observers say she is generally perceived as a moderate. Peterjohn said she’s “Obama-esque” in her ability to make radical positions seem compromising and moderate.
“She has been aided by the mainstream Kansas media, which is at least as far to the left as the national mainstream media,” Peterjohn said. “Only it’s worse. Unlike the country as a whole, the mainstream media in Kansas doesn’t have a Wall Street Journal editorial page or a Washington Times. All of the major newspapers are friendly to Kathleen Sebelius, so she has been able to govern radically and come across as a moderate.”
Wayne Laugesen is based
in Monument, Colorado.