The word on the street is that
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is the favorite pick, and a qualified
pick at that, for Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Obama
Administration. The other, less desirable word on the street is that
the anti-choice faction is diligently working to disqualify Sebelius
from this important cabinet post.
knows, Kansas has been a hotbed of anti-choice activism since the
late 1980’s, with the most infamous events occurring during the so-called
"Summer of Mercy" in 1991, staged in Wichita, Kansas by
anti-choice organizations from around the country. Unfortunately, the
anti-abortion squeaky wheel is still at work.
of mass riots in front of clinics these days, the anti-choice zealots
have taken to prompting key politicians sympathetic to their cause to
grind the axe for them. Most recently and most notably, former Attorney
General Phill Kline took up the anti-choice mantle for those who wish
to outlaw all reproductive health care for women.
When the Kline
crusade against Women’s Health Care Services, operated by Dr. George
Tiller, and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri broke in February
2004 (after subpoenas had been served under a gag order back in 2003) it quickly became
apparent that Kline’s quest for 90 medical records of women who had
had abortions was one of smoke and mirrors. It was not one of protecting
minor girls as he had claimed, but rather, to charge both clinics with
criminal offenses for performing late termination of pregnancy, thus
shutting them down for good.
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Those who wished to preserve legal reproductive health care in Kansas
realized that Kline had to be defeated in his re-election. So it should have come as no surprise
to anti-choice organizations that women’s rights groups would mobilize
against Kline in 2006 when he ran for re-election.
I give you
this background, since it has become known that anti-choice factions
are working against Sebelius’s nomination as HHS Secretary, in part,
because of her recruitment of a Democratic challenger against Kline
in 2006. Why would this arouse suspicion and surprise from conservatives?
After all, Sebelius is the top Democrat in Kansas and has great authority
over the recruitment and election of such candidates. That’s part
of her job. Regardless of Kline’s fishing expedition, she still would
have recruited the best possible candidate to run against him – hence,
electing more Democrats to office.
is prudent to point out that the office of the governor
is a separate operating entity from the office of attorney general.
It is an autonomous agency from that of the governor. Therefore, the
governor has no jurisdiction over the functions of the attorney general
and played a minimal role, if any, when he was fishing for women’s
What is true
and what the anti-choice advocates don’t like is that Governor Sebelius
is unequivocally pro-reproductive health care. But, that does not mean
abortion care alone. What they choose to ignore is that she is a strong
advocate for the health care of children, for prenatal care for women
and for preventive medicine. This, unfortunately, gets lost in the debate.
It would behoove
social conservatives to take the Governor’s cue on this: that comprehensive
medical care, which also includes health care for pregnant women and
children, would go a long way to serve their so-called "pro-life"
agenda. However, the earth will most certainly freeze over before an
admission of any compatibility on the issue surfaces.
So, is there
a "grand conspiracy" as Robert Novak purports (and where some of
his facts are blatantly wrong, but then I didn’t get a phone call)
in a column, reported on Firedoglake, in which he tried to discredit Sebelius?
Unequivocally, the answer is NO. When the Governor took the oath of
office, she pledged to uphold the law and to make reasonable and sound
policy decisions that would benefit all Kansans, not just the narrow
political and moral agenda of a few. This is a commitment that she would
most certainly take with her to Washington.
The Obama Administration
would be lucky to have such a passionate, committed, bi-partisan secretary
as Governor Sebelius.