Sebelius, Abortion and Catholics

By nominating Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) to be secretary of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration appears to have waded into an anticipated fight with groups that oppose abortion rights. These groups were critical of the possibility Sebelius could get the nod last week and were ready to fire away when news broke that Sebelius was going to be tapped for the post last night.

At the root of the issue is Sebelius' interactions with George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who is scheduled to stand trial on March 19 for violating state restrictions on performing late-term procedures.

Just hours after the nomination was leaked to the media, and still a day before the formal nomination, groups on both sides of the issue are gearing up for a fight. David Brody over at the Christian Broadcasting Network has statements by the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition criticizing the pick.

On the other side, Catholics United have put out a statement applauding the nomination. That group has also launched www.CatholicsforSebelius.org in support of the governor, who, by the way, is Roman Catholic.

UPDATE: Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council's legislative arm, also put out a release Saturday criticizing the nomination. "This weekend the cause for life was struck a double blow by first the halting of conscience protections for health care professionals who might otherwise be forced to perform or assist in abortions and the naming of the extremely pro-abortion Gov. Sebelius to HHS," the statement says.

Perkins said the Family Research Council will "work to oppose Gov. Sebelius' appointment."

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com