The Bottom Line on Sebelius

Julie Burkhart

Kansas Speaker Mike O'Neal has rushed two anti-choice bills to add fuel to the anti-choice fire against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. But that doesn't change reality: Sebelius is moderate and bipartisan.

Those interested in good government
breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius
was formally announced as nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services by President Obama. 

Governor Sebelius has proven
herself again and again to a broad spectrum of Kansans — and in a state that enjoys a 2 to 1 Republican margin. She is a two
time elected insurance commissioner and a two time elected governor,
as well as having served in the State House before taking statewide
office. Time and again, she has shown herself to be a rooted centrist who
has a propensity to get things done. 

However, today is another day
and the anti-choice extremists are at it again. Her nomination has brought
about a barrage of anti-choice inflammatory rhetoric. 

Over the past few days, the
article and blog coverage asserting her supposed "extremism" has bordered on obsessive.
But today, in the Kansas House, Speaker Mike O’Neal brought two anti-choice
bills up sooner than expected in order to add fuel to the fire. The
hope is to embarrass the Governor and to put sand in the cogs of her
nomination process. 

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The notion that Sebelius is
an "extremist" is preposterous. In a statement she released
regarding her veto of an anti-abortion bill, she emphatically stressed her personal
opposition to abortion and her commitment to reducing the abortion rate
in Kansas. The Governor has unequivocally put her money where her mouth
is on this issue.  

She has been a tireless advocate
for expanded health care for pregnant women, for comprehensive and medically
accurate sexuality education and for more accommodating adoption statutes.
What the Governor has done, and what we don’t see in more partisan
politicians, is that she has worked for the greater good of all people
in the state of Kansas.  

If you only listened to the
right wing rhetoric, you might conclude that the laws regarding reproductive
health care in Kansas are highly suspect and expansive. However, the
stark reality is that Kansas has a number of narrowly defined statutes
regarding abortion care; most notably in statute 65-6703, which you
can view at www.kslegislature.org. This statute was crafted to allow
women who have later term pregnancies and who fall within strict parameters
to have procedures in a safe and legal manner.  

The Governor, in her quest
for the greater good, has chosen to allow those previously crafted statutes
to stand as they were written. Additionally, she understands that
Roe v. Wade
and Doe v. Bolton
are emphatically the law of the land. It would be futile for the Governor
to accommodate those who wish to challenge those long standing and substantial
legal cases. 

This is the bottom line: Does
the Governor support legal reproductive health care services for women
and their families? Yes. Does the Governor also have a broader health
care agenda, one that will serve a wide spectrum of citizens, including
pregnant women who wish to have children? Yes. The Governor’s consistent
actions throughout the years clearly indicate that she has a balanced
and thoughtful approach to health care. 

What the anti-choice leaders
fail to see is that their absolutism and so-called purity on this one
issue – women’s rights – is one of extremism. Their absolutist,
fanatical approach has led them nowhere but to the fringes. Unfortunately,
when the debate or discussion moves so far from the center, it leaves
little room for meaningful dialogue about how to more realistically
enhance the quality of life for all citizens across the United States.

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