Kathleen Sebelius Can Expect More Abortion Questions During Thursday’s Hearing

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kathleen Sebelius Can Expect More Abortion Questions During Thursday’s Hearing

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 1
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Kathleen Sebelius, the pro-abortion governor President Barack Obama appointed to become the next Health Secretary, can expect more questions on abortion during her second hearing. During the first of the two-committee hearing process, Sebelius received questions on pro-life issues from just one lawmaker.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a second hearing on Sebelius Thursday and, when it does, abortion is expected to be a bigger issue.

"Gov. Sebelius was told by committee staff in a Tuesday meeting to be prepared to respond to the abortion issue during her confirmation hearing because it would be raised," a representative for Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley told The Hill.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican member of the committee which will vote on Sebelius, has already indicated he will oppose her nomination and that abortion is the reason why.

"For Sen. Cornyn, his reservations are specifically over the abortion issue," an aide told The Hill.

During the first hearing, Sebelius said she wanted to promote health care, which pro-life advocates are concerned will include abortion coverage and mandates for insurance providers to pay for them.

The only abortion-related question came from Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who asked Sebelius about the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 that has resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen women worldwide and injured more than 1,400 in the United States alone.

He asked Sebelius if the Obama administration had any plans to classify the abortion drug as an “emergency contraceptive” — which would exempt it from the Hyde amendment that prohibits direct taxpayer funding of abortions.

"As far as I know, there are no plans, I certainly have had no discussions with anyone about changing that policy," she said. Responding further, Sebelius added, "Again, I am not confirmed as secretary, I haven’t had those discussions."

Coburn said he is concerned about Sebelius’ pro-abortion record and Obama’s support for the radical Freedom of Choice Act, which would potentially overturn hundreds of state pro-life laws. One law would remove the rights of doctors to not be involved in abortions.

“As a pro-life obstetrician, I feel I have a constitutional right to have those protections as I practice medicine," he said.

Though Obama has proposed removing additional protections President Bush put in place for medical staff, Sebelius said Obama supports a “clearly defined conscience clause for providers and institutions."

"I don’t think from the discussions that I’ve had that there is any intention of interfering with the underlying legal basis," Sebelius added, referring to Bush’s protections.

To moderate her abortion views, Sebelius pointed out that the state of Kansas had a conscience clause in effect during her time as governor and that it was not rescinded.

HELP Committee ranking member Mike Enzi also nominally address abortion during the first Sebelius hearing.

"We may not always agree on every issue. I am and will remain staunchly pro-life and will continue to advocate for legislation to protect the rights of the unborn," he said.

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