Governor Sebellius. Another Dissident Catholic for Health and Human Services?


Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) – On Tuesday February 3, 2009, former Senator Tom Daschle withdrew his name from consideration as President Obama’s choice to fill the important position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.

It was disclosed that the nominee had failed to pay substantial back taxes. In a candid N.B.C. News interview the President said that he had “screwed up” in making the nomination. The reason he gave was his concern over feeding a growing perception among the American public that there were two sets of standards when it came to paying taxes and obeying the law, those for ordinary people and those for the powerful.

However, another story received much less coverage. It was the collective sigh of relief that came after the withdrawal of this dissident Catholic’s name from consideration for this vital post, particularly in Catholic circles. After all, while serving in the US Senate, Senator Tom Daschle opposed the ban on the infanticide called partial birth abortion, endorsed taxpayer funded military abortions and promoted the distribution of so called “morning after” pills in public schools.

The idea that the head of all health policy for the United States would be an advocate of expanding federal funds for the killing of innocent children in the womb made millions of Americans deeply concerned and faithful Catholics angry.For faithful Catholics, it was repugnant that Tom Daschle, a self professed Catholic Christian, held a public position and voting record that was directly at odds with the infallible teaching of his Church.There is no disputing this teaching of the Catholic Church.

Now, the story surrounding this important appointment may be taking an even more troubling turn. If the rumors prove to be true, and observers can recognize the floating of the trial balloons which usually occurs in these situations, the replacement for Tom Daschle may be the Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius. Catholics and all who recognize that the inalienable right to life attaches to all human persons from the moment of conception have serious reason to be alarmed if they are true.

Governor Kathleen Sebellius is an outspoken Catholic dissident who views the taking of the lives of children in the first home of the whole human race as a “health service” and a “choice”. If her record in Kansas is any indication of how she would lead HHS, she would be an aggressive advocate of the expansion of abortion and the use of Federal funds to pay for it.

The Kansas Governor received extensive coverage during the last U.S. presidential campaign. She was an early supporter of the candidacy of Barack Obama for the Presidency. After his nomination she became a leading contender for the Vice Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket.

However, her continuous and overt defiance of the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the dignity of every human person no matter how small led to her public reprimand by the Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann, her own Bishop.While claiming to be a Catholic, Governor Sebellius consistently vetoed every effort to restrict abortion.

The Archbishop referred to her “30-year history of advocating and acting in support of legalized abortion” in his public correction fo the Governor. He noted that she was engaging in what the Catholic Catechism defines as “scandal”, when “one’s action leads someone else to sin. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.”

The Archbishop told the Governor that she should refrain from receiving the Holy Eucharist because of this open defiance and rebellion against the Church. The position of the Catholic Church concerning the fundamental dignity of every human is not simply a “religious” position. Rather, it is rooted in the Natural Law.It is binding on all men and women. It is wrong to take innocent human life.

Governor Sebellius is one of a number of Catholics in public life who have adopted a flagrant error and continue to try to defend it. They maintain that someone can be “personally opposed” to abortion but then support it being called a “right” in the positive law and protected with the police power of the State.

Let us imagine the unimaginable, that the culture of death and use expands and the positive law in the United States was to include protecting the killing of children up to the age of one if they were not wanted for any reason within its protection. This position of "personally opposed but" is morally akin to a public official supporting such an obviously evil law and claiming they were personally opposed to it. There is no moral difference between the child in the womb and a one year old child.

Medical Science has confirmed what our conscience has always known; the child in the womb is a human being, our first neighbor. The effort to justify this intentional killing of our neighbor by surgical strikes or chemical weapons as a matter of “choice” places the public official in the position of cooperation in what is always wrong. It is increasingly obvious to many people that the pro-life position is the only logical outgrowth of any sincere concern for our neighbors. Abortion is anti-neighbor.

In some respects, Governor Sebellius is a compelling selection for this Administration. She has a record on other policy and economic matters which is consistent with their own positions. She is articulate and presents herself well. However, her fundamental failure to respect the dignity of our first neighbors in the womb undercuts it all. What makes Governor Sebellius’ actions even more heinous is the undisputed fact that in 2007 she hosted a fundraising reception for the notorious late term abortionist Dr. George Tiller. No-one defends “Doctor” Tiller these days. She did by promoting his gruesome “work”!

One of the last actions of the Bush administration through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was to enact “conscience protection regulations” to protect medical professionals and workers who recognize that the child in the womb is their neighbor and refuse to participate in killing him or her through intentional abortion. The appointment of Governor Sebellius by this Administration would cast a serious cloud over the future of this vital protection of conscience.

The entire infrastructure of Catholic Social thought is built upon the truth that every single human life, at every age and every stage, throughout the whole continuum of life, has an inherent human dignity and must be respected and protected.

Catholics insist upon caring for the poor because of their human dignity. We oppose unjustifiable military actions because of the dignity of every human person, including even our “enemies”. We are concerned about our neighbors because of their dignity as human persons. Abortion is anti-neighbor. Abortion constitutes a pre-emptive war on an unarmed class of human persons. It must be exposed, opposed and ended not just reduced.

Should President Obama select Governor Sebellius to fill this vital position Catholics should do everything in their power to defeat her appointment to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Catholics should also be publicly asking a serious question: Why does this President continue to select Catholics to fill openings in his administration who openly defy their own Church?