WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, whose Roman Catholic archdiocese covers northeast Kansas, on May 9 called on Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to stop taking Communion until she disowns her support for the "serious moral evil" of abortion. That put the church in conflict with a rising star of the Democratic Party, often described as a "moderate" and perhaps the leading prospect to become Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate.
Naumann also took Sebelius to task for her veto April 21 of a bill, passed two to one by both houses of the Kansas Legislature, which would strengthen the state's ban on late-term abortions by authorizing private lawsuits against providers. That followed by a year her veto of a bill requiring explicit medical reasons for a late abortion, which was preceded by vetoing other abortion legislation in 2006, 2005 and 2003.
Those positions are necessary for Democratic politicians to pass their party's pro-choice litmus test, but Sebelius' connection with abortion is more intimate. She is allied with the aggressive Kansas branch of Planned Parenthood in a bitter struggle with anti-abortion activist District Attorney Phill Kline. There is substantial evidence she has been involved in laundering abortion industry money for distribution to Kansas Democrats. Kansas is the fiercest state battleground for abortion wars, making Kathleen Sebelius the national pro-choice poster girl.
The Almanac of American Politics talks of a "moderate image" for Sebelius, daughter of former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan. She picked up substantial Republican support in an easy 2002 win for governor and, after naming a former Republican state chairman as her running mate, was re-elected in a 2006 landslide. Chosen this year to deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union Address, she told the nation, "In this time normally reserved for the partisan response, I hope to offer you something more: an American response." She gave the impression of reaching out across party lines in what was widely regarded as an audition for vice president as a Democrat able to carry a heavily Republican state.
Behind that facade, Sebelius sits at the apex of a complicated Kansas financing system involving the famous abortion provider Dr. George Tiller of Wichita. She controls Bluestem Fund PAC, distributing money to Kansas Democratic candidates. Tiller, one of the few American doctors still performing late-term abortions, contributed $120,000 to the Democratic Governors Association in 2006, which has given $200,000 to Bluestem.