The confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Tuesday has many conservative and pro-life groups concerned about the health of Americans, especially the unborn.
"This is obviously a step in the wrong direction for our nation. With Sebelius, we can expect to see increased protections for predatory abortionists, taxpayer funded abortions, and rationed health care that could cost lives," said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman.
The U.S. Senate voted 65-31 to confirm the former Kansas governor as the new top health official. She was sworn in Tuesday night, becoming the final member of President Obama's Cabinet.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Obama said he was thrilled to have her on his team and said he expects her to "hit the ground running."
"[A]nd I have every confidence that given her experience as a governor who's managed crises before, who's worked on public health issues since she's been in public life, she is the right person at the right time for the job," he added.
Pro-life groups that have been urging followers to contact their senators to vote against Sebelius' confirmation, however, expressed little excitement.
Since Obama announced his nomination of Sebelius to head the HHS department in March, pro-lifers have been making efforts to block her confirmation. They cite Sebelius' pro-abortion actions and her personal ties to the notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller.
More recently, they denounced the former governor's misreporting the amount of funding she received from Tiller. She initially reported that she received $12,450 from 1994 to 2001 from Tiller but later amended her answer saying she received a total of $36,900 – only after the discrepancy was exposed in campaign finance documents circulated by pro-life group Operation Rescue.
"We urged senators to vote no on a nominee who has abandoned women and children in her state and aligned herself with notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. "Despite how liberals portray her, Kathleen Sebelius is not your garden variety 'pro-choicer.' Her record, including support for gruesome third-trimester abortions."
Operation Rescue's Newman noted, "With this confirmation, Obama is continuing to build a Culture of Death in our nation."
While lamenting Sebelius' confirmation, Newman was encouraged by the 31 Republican senators who voted nay.
"That is more than we had first expected and we are grateful to each of them for their efforts to block this pro-abortion nomination," he said Tuesday. "It shows a divided Senate that will be keeping a close eye on Sebelius in the coming term."
Other pro-life groups were also encouraged by the increasing number of supporters they have witnessed over the past several weeks.
The Susan B. Anthony List reportedly generated over 60,000 letters of opposition to senators regarding the Sebelius nomination.
"The high profile Sebelius confirmation battle has generated new interest and brought thousands of new activists on board for the pro-life cause," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. "This grassroots energy will only increase our momentum as we confront the next round of President Obama's extreme pro-abortion nominees, beginning with former NARAL Legal Director Dawn Johnsen."
Johnsen was nominated by Obama to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department. Pro-life groups are opposing her nomination, citing Johnsen's pro-choice views.
FRC's Perkins, meanwhile, said he was also seeing greater momentum in the pro-life movement his organization will work to "ensure that health care 'reform' is not infected with Sebelius's pro-abortion views."
"The American people will not accept public funding of abortion as 'health care' or the crushing of conscience rights, which will drive medical personnel from their fields," he stated.