Yet Another Opinion About the Sebelius Nom

Micah Steffes

I'm not Catholic, but I am a very spiritual person, and I feel like faith is an important aspect of the total shape of my politics. And as someone who is conflicted about abortion in terms of faith, it's nice to hear someone basically say it's okay to be pro-choice and pro-life.

Whoa whoa whoa. Okay. So yesterday everyone had to weigh in on the Sebelius nomination, and I guess that means that I get to too! 

Now maybe my opinion is a piss in the river, to be crude, but I wanted to focus on a specific strand of news items that are challenging the Sebelius nomination as an affront against the Common Ground and abortion reduction platform that paved the way for an Obama vote by those more conflicted about abortion (notice: not necessarily "pro-life" identified). 

So the question seems to be, does a Kathleen Sebelius nomination mean a departure from the abortion reduction approach?

First: the naysayers, and these are pretty predictable. There’s the Susan B. Anthony List, whose president Marjorie Dannenfelser called out the nom as: 

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…further evidence of something gone terribly wrong for those seeking consensus on the abortion issue, especially the President.  He speaks of finding ‘common ground’ on abortion, but then he makes a series of decisions that comprise the biggest overreach since the 1973 Supreme Court wiped every legal protection for unborn children off the books in the Roe v. Wade decision and the Doe v. Bolton companion decision. 


So that’s her opinion, which is pretty predictable, and then there’s…

Well, that’s about it. 

The general consensus seems to be that Sebelius is the best pick for a common ground approach, regardless of more extreme christian groups are calling her, among other things, an "enemy of the unborn" (thank-you, Bill Donahue, for your fresh perspective). 

But in fact, I wanted to highlight something else, and that’s Kathleen Sebelius’s own position on the matter.  The fact that Sebelius is Catholic has meant that many on the religious end have thrown a stink about, what one blogger so eloquently put it, her apparent membership to the, "’Yes, I’m a Catholic but an ardent promoter of abortion on demand’ bunch."

For Sebelius herself, it means she’s a "Pro-choice pro-lifer." Dan Gilgoff at USNews has a longer excerpt from a 2006 address, but here’s just a bit that I thought was beautiful and illustrates where she’s really coming from:


On one hand, faith is intensely personal. Faith probes the deepest reaches of our souls and every aspect of our inner selves. It sustains us in our family lives and gives us strength to do the right thing, even when it is hard or unpopular…working for the common good is not a new concept, but a core tenant of the teachings of my faith…


My Catholic faith teaches me that all life is sacred, and personally I believe abortion is wrong…If we work hard and match our rhetoric with our actions, we can create a culture that is more welcoming of mothers and treasuring of our children.  We must redouble our efforts on prevention and personal responsibility. We must stand with women who feel so alone that abortion seems like their only choice.  These women need people to walk with them, not cast stones at them…

If we truly wish to reduce the number of abortions further, we need to work together to truly promote a culture of life, by helping women and families to get the support they need when facing unexpected pregnancies and to continue to reduce the number of abortions. Healthcare, child care, job opportunities, affordable housing– they are all the building blocks of a culture of life and we can use them to build a future where abortion is extremely rare. 


The thing is, I’m not Catholic, but I am a very spiritual person, and I feel like faith is an important dimension in the total shape of my world views, when it comes down to it. And as someone who is conflicted about abortion, not in politics (where I’m staunchly pro-choice) but in faith, it’s nice to hear someone basically say it’s okay to be pro-choice and pro-life.  Someone said this to me a long time ago, and I was really resistant, but the proof is in the pudding. 

A Sebelius nom is something I can definitely get behind.  And as far as Common Ground goes, the Sebelius nom is just another brick in the pavement. 

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