So far, abortion has not emerged as a huge issue in the confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius for health and human services secretary.
But as she goes today before the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote whether to forward her nomination to the full Senate, conservatives are trying to put abortion front and center, while also highlighting her tax trouble -- she acknowledged paying about $7,000 in back taxes after "unintentional" errors in three years of returns.
UPDATE: Senators decided to wait to vote on Sebelius's nomination until they return from a two-week recess that starts Saturday, so that lawmakers have more time to review her responses on tax and other issues.
"Gov. Sebelius may not pay her own taxes, but has no qualms about using tax dollars to pay for others’ abortions. Even before she reported her tax issues Gov. Sebelius was manifestly unqualified to run America's health care system, as illustrated by her coddling of the abortion industry at the expense of Kansas women's safety. With her background, Gov. Sebelius can only be expected to politicize the office of HHS. Gov. Sebelius's difficulties illuminate an emerging pattern: that Obama nominates non-experts who cannot be relied upon to solve their own tax problems, let alone govern effectively," said a statement issued today by a who's who of anti-abortion conservatives.
They include Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president, Susan B. Anthony List; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy, Focus on the Family; and Don Wildmon, president, American Family Association.
"More acute than her tax problems, Gov. Sebelius is not to be trusted with any aspect of citizens' healthcare. As a member of the Kansas House of Representatives in the 1980s and 1990s Gov. Sebelius voted to weaken or eliminate even such modest measures as parental notification, waiting periods and informed consent. As governor, she twice has vetoed bills attempting to protect the health and safety of women by more tightly regulating abortion clinics. Gov. Sebelius has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and they have conducted fundraising activity on her behalf. Clearly, Gov. Sebelius has a track record of politicizing common-sense health issues," they added.
Sebelius, a Catholic who personally opposes abortion, has not gone along with further limits as Kansas governor, though she did sign a bill on Friday requiring doctors to allow women to see ultrasound images of their fetuses before performing abortions.
In her prepared testimony, Sebelius said she wants to focus on prevention and primary care to help slow the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid. On Tuesday, she told another Senate panel that she would make healthcare overhaul her mission.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.