Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Kathleen Sebelius on Federal Funding of Abortion

September 15th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

From Catholic Culture News with my comments

In an interview published in The Washington Post, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said that as a Cabinet official she supported PresidentBarack Obama’s pledge not to make abortion funding part of health care legislation but did not give her own opinion on the subject. She also refused to say whether she is heeding Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s admonition not to receive Holy Communion, according to the interview transcript.

MS. ROMANO: You are pro-choice.


MS. ROMANO: Do you think that the federal government should do some federal funding of abortions, personally?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the President has made it pretty clear that Congress and the new health insurance plan will not provide federal funds for abortions.

Despite what the President may have said, multiple independent groups point out that the actual details of each of the bills that have been proposed all do in fact fund abortion. Further, every time an amendment has been proposed to specifically exclude abortion from the bill, those amendments have been voted down. So, while Sebelius can say that the President has “made it pretty clear,” if he really wanted to be clear he would state plainly that he will veto any bill that does not explicitly exclude abortion funding. In the end, that is really the only legislative power the President has; until he promises a veto he’s really not promising anything.

MS. ROMANO: Well, I know that. I was asking you what you thought.

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I am the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I will support the President’s proposal moving forward.

MS. ROMANO: You are also a pro-choice Catholic, and I was reading some stories out of your home state recently where one of the bishops took an action. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the Archbishop in the Kansas City area did not approve of my conduct as a public official and asked that I not present myself for communion.

It is not her conduct as a public official that gets her in trouble with the Church. It is her conduct as a Catholic who creates a public scandal to other Catholics that gets her in trouble.

MS. ROMANO: What did you think about that?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, and I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that my actions as a parishioner are different than my actions as a public official and that the people who elected me in Kansas had a right to expect me to uphold their rights and their beliefs even if they did not have the same religious beliefs that I had. And that’s what I did: I took an oath of office and I have taken an oath of office in this job and will uphold the law.

There are two key issues here. First, she uses the the excuse that public officials can behave immorally because they are just following orders. This is no different than if the leaders of Hitler’s Nazi party were to claim that they were personally opposed to slaughtering millions of innocent people but had taken an oath to separate this private belief from their public action. If the pro-abortion politicians of today can get away with the “just following orders” defense then we owe a huge apology to a lot of people we convicted of war crimes after WWII. An unjust law is no law at all. Further, the idea that Sebelius merely upheld the law is also false. She activelyvetoed pro-life legislation passed by both houses of congress duly elected to represent the will of the people to whom she claims she is beholden. Only 7% of the American people support abortion on demand as it is currently interpreted by our courts. Clearly it is not the will of the people that is being protected here.

Secondly, most dangerous is this attempt to turn abortion into a “religious” issue. Abortion has nothing to do with the “separation of Church and state” issue as Sebelius claims. Abortion is not merely a religious issue. This is an issue of civil rights. Can we continue to deny the rights of fellow members of the human race simply because of where they are located or what functions they are capable of performing? Any atheist can come to a logical conclusion that a baby growing inside its mother is a separate and unique human being that is alive. Every medical text book states this fact. The issue is whether we will continue to deny human rights to these human persons. That is a civil issue and separate from religion although religious people would no doubt fight for civil rights. 

MS. ROMANO: Do you continue to take communion?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I really would prefer not to discuss with you.That’s really a personal–thank you.

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