Pro-Lifers Make Eleventh Hour Effort to Derail Sebelius Nomination

A Senate panel is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the bid of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as health and human services secretary. But pro-life activists are making an eleventh-hour push to derail her nomination.

Team Sarah, an online community of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin supporters, urged its members Monday to "flood the phone lines" of Senate Finance Committee members to voice their opposition to her confirmation to the HHS post.

"This act will alert the Senate Finance Committee to the reality of major public dissent and controversy surrounding the Governor's confirmation," the group, which claims over 68,000 members, tells supporters in "Not on My Watch" campaign materials.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on Sebelius' nomination during a break session in Tuesday's roundtable discussion on Reforming America's Health Care Delivery System. The panel is expected to confirm her nomination and send it to the full Senate for consideration.

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, sent an e-mail blast to supporters Monday, urging them to contact their senators and ask them to vote against her confirmation.

Perkins has been among several pro-life advocates who have been critical of Sebelius for underreporting how much money she received from the notorious late-term abortion provider George Tiller, who was acquitted last month of charges of illegal abortions but is now under investigation by the state medical board.

Sebelius initially reported in a written statement to the Finance Committee that she received $12,450 from 1994 to 2001 from Tiller, but later amended her answer saying she received a total of $36,900 from Tiller. The admission was made only after the discrepancy was exposed in campaign finance documents circulated by Operation Rescue, a Kansas-based pro-life activist group, and then reported by The Associated Press.

Over the past week, pro-life advocates also pointed to fundraising a letter signed by Tiller, stating that he personally contributed $200,000 to ProKanDo, a political action committee dedicated to defeating Sebelius' opponent in the 2002 Kansas gubernatorial race.

These revelations follow an admission by Sebelius earlier this month that she paid nearly $8,000 in three years worth of back taxes and interest because of improper deductions.

"Her tax problems and a failure to report political contributions derived from a late-term abortionist invite serious questions about her integrity," Perkins said Sunday in a news conference held across the street from Tiller's abortion clinic.

"If we can't trust Gov. Sebelius to be open and honest about her political contributions, how we can trust her to administer and improve our health care system and the largest department in the federal government?" he posed.

Focus on the Family Action, the political arm of the ministry founded by Dr. James Dobson, also called its supporters into action on Monday.

"If confirmed, the pro-abortion governor would be in a position to profoundly influence federal and state policies on abortion, rights of conscience, bioethics and end-of-life issues. She also would be instrumental in distributing federal funding to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood," says the group.

During his radio broadcast on Monday, Dobson called Sebelius "one of the most pro-abortion governors in the country."

He brought attention to her vetoes on several pro-life measures including legislation that would have guaranteed the safety of abortion centers that were operating under medically dangerous conditions and enforced Kansas' parental notification law.

Early in her nomination, several evangelical and Catholic leaders defended Sebelius' record on life issues, saying the number of abortions in Kansas decreased under her watch and legislation protecting the unborn from crime was made law.

Sebelius said in written responses earlier this month to members of the Senate Finance Committee that most of the abortion-related bills she vetoed as Kansas governor "threatened the constitutional rights or medical privacy of women."

A Roman Catholic, Sebelius has said that while she is personally opposed to abortion she supports abortion rights.