Researcher: Catholics United Falsely Claims Sebelius Caused Abortion Drop

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Researcher: Catholics United Falsely Claims Sebelius Caused Abortion Drop

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2009

Topeka, KS ( — In Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama has appointed a strong abortion advocate for Health Secretary. While evidence makes that clear, some Sebelius backers claim she’s not that radical in backing abortion because she oversaw a decline in abortions in Kansas.

Researcher Michael New, a professor of political science at the University of Alabama, put those claims to the test.

He finds that abortions may have indeed decreased during Sebelius’ tenure as governor, but he finds she had nothing to do with the decline. New also indicated Sebelius could have grown the size of the drop in abortions but failed to do so.

As noted, the Obama cover group Catholics United claimed abortions fell 10 percent under Sebelius and that her policies were directly responsible.

"However, this abortion reduction argument put forth by Catholics United is problematic for several reasons," New writes in a new editorial at the Moral Accountability web site.

New says Kansas abortion statistics are notoriously unreliable.

"Between 1979 and 1987 data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment indicate that the number of abortions performed in Kansas fell by almost 50 percent. Then between 1987 and 1992 the number of abortions suddenly increased by 73 percent," he notes. "The Kansas Department of Health and Environment states that these sharp fluctuations are partly due to changes in reporting and not the actual incidence of abortion."

Using the abortion statistics at face value, New says "there still exist problems with the analysis put forth by Catholics United."

Sebelius took office in January 2003 and the state health department says it believes abortions did decline by about 7 percent between 2003 and 2007.

"However, this is consistent with a long term decline in the incidence of abortion in Kansas. Data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment indicates that the number of abortions declined by 6 percent between 1999 and 2003," New explains.

New says the decline is most likely attributed to a pro-life law that his research has shown reduces abortions in other states.

"Furthermore, when discussing this abortion decline it is unfortunate, but unsurprising, that Catholics United makes no mention of the Casey style Women’s Right to Know Bill which took effect in Kansas in 1997," he writes.

That’s the bill that requires abortion practitioners to provide women with information about abortion’s risks and alternatives.

New also points out that people and groups other than Sebelius have been responsible for reducing abortions by focusing on the state’s controversial late-term abortion practitioner.

"Catholic United does not mention the increased scrutiny given to late term abortionist George Tiller by both former Attorney General Phill Kline and Operation Rescue," he says.

New explains that Sebelius should actually be criticized for not doing more to reduce abortions, such as by signing legislation that has proven to lower them.

"During her tenure as Governor, Kathleen Sebelius has failed to support a number of policies that would have further reduced abortions in Kansas," he writes. Sebelius cut state funding for abortion alternatives, vetoed a bill imposing minimal sanitary standards on abortion clinics, and vetoed a bill that would have strengthened Kansas’s parental notification law."

"More shocking, is Sebelius’ unyielding support for late-term abortions. She has vetoed a measure that would require explicit medical reasons for late-term abortions and vetoed another measure which would require abortion providers to report the diagnosis which necessitated a post-viability abortion," he adds.

New concludes: "Overall, these actions provide a far better indication of Sebelius’ views on sanctity of life issues than an incidental abortion decline that occurred under her watch."

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