Late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller will stand trial in Wichita beginning today, charged with 19 misdemeanor counts of failing to obtain a mandatory second, independent physician’s opinion to performing a late-term abortion. Tiller is accused of having a financial relationship with his partnered physician, Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who provided the second opinions. (Evidently it’s not so easy to find another physician who agrees with the medical “necessity” of these procedures.)
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
Regardless of what happens to Tiller, there is no doubt that his trial will provide a constant reminder of his relationship to President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
How close is Sebelius to Tiller, whose clinic in Wichita is nationally known for the availability of late-term abortions? As first discovered by Operation Rescue, Sebelius held a party honoring Tiller at the governor’s mansion in April 2007. Only Tiller, his wife, and clinic staff were present at the event.
Sebelius has also used her veto power to protect the legality of Tiller’s late-term abortion business. An April 2008 veto of a bill passed by the Kansas legislature protected Tiller and other late-term abortionists from private lawsuits. A year earlier, Sebelius vetoed another bill requiring explicit medical reasons for a late abortion, just as she has vetoed all legislation restricting abortion since she became governor.
Dr. Tiller has spent millions of dollars helping Sebelius and the Democratic Party through his ProKanDo PAC and non-profit. He spent $1.2 million in the 2006 election cycle alone. Much of Tiller’s money targeted pro-life attorney general Phil Kline, who has been the bête noir obstructing the Sebelius/Tiller pro-abortion effort in Kansas.
For her part, Sebelius follows the template of the pro-abortion Catholic politician devised in the late 1960s by Rev. Robert Drinan, S.J. (among others). Like Kennedy, Pelosi, Kerry, et al., Sebelius claims, “My Catholic faith teaches me that life is sacred. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong.” She is a product of Catholic schools, including Trinity University in Washington, D.C. (also the alma mater of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). In 2003, Trinity awarded both Sebelius and Pelosi honorary doctorates.
Her ordinary, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, has warned Sebelius several times of her infidelity to Church teaching. When she was nominated as head of HHS, Bishop Naumann called Obama’s choice “offensive” and wrote:
Because of her long history both as a legislator and governor of consistently supporting legalized abortion and after many months of dialogue, I requested Governor Sebelius not to present herself for communion.
Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signature in Rome, recently showed his solidarity by publicly stating his support for Archbishop Naumann’s view of Sebelius’s fitness for communion. “Whether Governor Sebelius is in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or in any other diocese, she should not present herself for Holy Communion because, after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin,” the archbishop said.
Sebelius has distanced herself from Dr. Tiller since his indictments were handed down. Through various surrogates, she has also tried to take credit for a drop in the Kansas abortion rate during the time she was governor. Archbishop Naumann has labeled that claim “dishonest.” Dr. Michael New, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, provides a definitive debunking of Sebelius’s abortion reduction claim.
After three days of jury selection, opening arguments in the Tiller case are scheduled to begin March 23. Each guilty verdict on the 19 counts could cost Tiller up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, as well as his license to practice medicine.
The date for the Sebelius Senate hearings has not been set, and the Tiller trial makes the hearings more problematic. With the national spotlight on Tiller’s trial, much of that light will inevitably fall on Governor Sebelius, further illuminating her support for, and protection of, the late-term abortion procedure.