Michael Gerson
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WASHINGTON -- There is a common thread running through President Obama's pro-choice agenda: the coercion of those who disagree with it.

Obama has begun providing federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. He has moved to weaken conscience protections for health care professionals. And he has chosen the most radical possible option on the use of embryonic stem cells -- a free license for researchers, with boundaries set only by the National Institutes of Health.

Taxpayers will now likely fund not only the use of "spare" embryos from in vitro fertilization, but also human lives produced and ended for the sole purpose of scientific exploitation. Biotechnicians have been freed from the vulgar moralism of the masses, so they can operate according to the vulgar utilitarianism of their own social clique -- the belief that some human lives can be planted, plucked and processed for the benefit of others.

It is the incurable itch of pro-choice activists to compel everyone's complicity in their agenda. Somehow getting "politics out of science" translates into taxpayer funding for embryo experimentation. "Choice" becomes a demand on doctors and nurses to violate their deepest beliefs or face discrimination.

It is probably not a coincidence that Obama has chosen a Roman Catholic -- Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius -- to implement many of these policies as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Obama has every right to a pro-choice Cabinet. But this appointment seems designed to provide religious cover. It also smacks of religious humiliation -- like asking a rabbi to serve the pork roast or an atheist to bless the meal.

Sebelius, though strongly pro-choice, was capable of occasional compromise. But she consistently fought against the serious enforcement of Kansas' late-term abortion restrictions. Kansas became a magnet for late-term abortions.

Still, Sebelius insists that "my Catholic faith teaches me that all life is sacred." This puts her in the same category as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden -- Catholics who assert the sanctity of life while defending legal abortion. It has also earned Sebelius a firm rebuke from her archbishop.

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Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is the author of the book "Heroic Conservatism" and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.
 
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