The Senate voted 65-31 to confirm Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as President Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. Just last week Sebelius again denied protection to the unborn when she vetoed a bill that would provide increased regulations on performing late term abortions.
How Did Our Catholic Senators Vote?
Nineteen Catholic Senators supported the Sebelius nomination and six Catholic Senators opposed. Two Catholic senators who are ardently pro-life supported the governor; Senator Sam Brownback and Senator George Voinovich. Senator Brownback announced his support early on which was a surprise and a major disappointment to many in the pro-life movement.
Senator Murkowski, who has a mixed voting record on life issues, voted against Sebelius.
Senator Casey who campaigned in 2006 as pro-life has a voting record on life issues that fluctuates. In January he was publicly admonished by his local ordinary, Bishop Martino, for an anti-life vote opposing an amendment to reinstate the Mexico Policy. In a letter thanking the Senator for his support of a subsequent life issue vote, Bishop Martino called on Senator Casey to oppose Sebelius as HHS Secretary expressing the following concern:
As you must be aware, Governor Sebelius is one of the most militant pro-abortion politicians in the country. She has voted several times against her own legislature in their efforts to prevent late-term abortions. As secretary of HHS, she will be in the position to advance the cause of making abortion a “basic health care service.” This will mean that physicians, nurses and health care institutions will be required to provide abortion even when conscience forbids them to do so. The protection of the right to refuse abortion is essential to the continuation of Catholic health care. Finally, I join Archbishop Naumann in his concern for the spiritual wellbeing of Governor Sebelius and so many other Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion contrary to the clear and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church.
Senator Casey did not heed the request of his local Ordinary. In a statement released by the Scranton Diocese regarding Sen. Casey's vote, Bishop Martino said he was "deeply disappointed." It went on to say that the Bishop would continue to monitor Senator Casey's positions and "if necessary future determinations will be made regarding whether Sen. Casey is worthy to receive Holy Communion. However, at this point Bishop Martino believes it is incumbent upon Sen. Casey to reflect on his actions and ask himself if he should receive the sacrament."
Sebelius' confirmation hearing had been stalled due to a report that she was not forthcoming on her relationship with late term abortionist Dr. George Tiller. The AP revealed that Governor Sebelius underreported the campaign money she had received from the abortionist and the pro-life organization Operation Rescue released a document showiing Dr. Tiller contributed $200,000 to defeat Kathleen Sebelius’ challenger in the 2002 Kansas gubernatorial race.
A strong effort by the pro-life community and conservative family groups to defeat the nomination was met by an equally strong effort on behalf of abortion rights groups. NARAL claimed responsibility for 22,000 messages to senators.
Gov. Sebelius' local Ordinary, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, concerned about another high profile pro-abortion rights Catholic, made the following comments in an interview with Our Sunday Visitor when her nomination was first announced:
"...I think from the church’s point of view, it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President (Joe) Biden and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress. And so I think it makes our job as bishops more challenging, because we have to be even more clear that this is not acceptable for a person in public service to say that they are Catholic and then to support these policies that are anti-life, you know go against the most fundamental of all human rights, the preservation of innocent life."
Fr. Euteneuer, President of HLI made the following statment on the Sebelius nomination and Senator Brownback's decision to support her:
The situation is atrocious. An extremist abortion hack (called the most pro-abortion governor in the nation by many), who falsely calls herself "Catholic," is given the opportunity to preside over the nation's healthcare system and normalize abortion even further; this radical is then endorsed by a US senator who also calls himself "Catholic" and who, many believe, wants her job back home when she becomes the abortion queen in DC.
As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius will no doubt advance abortion rights, and affect policy on conscience protection, embryonic stem cell research and end of life decisions.
To view senators' voting record, please visit: http://www.onenationundergod.org/news_brief_sebelius.html
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