Archbishop's column about Kansas Gov. Sebelius

(Here is the full text of Archbishop Joseph Naumann's column, published today in The Leaven, the Archdiocese newspaper.)

On the day of my return (Monday, April 21) from the exhilarating experience of participating in Pope Benedict’s pastoral visit to the United States, I learned that Governor Kathleen Sebelius had vetoed The Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act (HS SB 389) which had been passed by significant majorities in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. Last week an attempt to over-ride the Governor’s veto failed in the Senate by two votes.

Governor Sebelius in her veto message claimed: “For years, the people of Kansas have asked their elected officials to move beyond legislative debates on issues like abortion ” From her veto message, I received the impression the Governor considered it a waste of Legislature’s time to pass a statute that attempts to protect some women by making certain they have the opportunity to be well informed: 1) about the development of their unborn child and 2) about abortion alternatives available to them. Evidently, the Governor does not approve of legislators devoting energy to protecting children and women by making it possible to enforce existing Kansas laws regulating late-term abortions.

The Governor’s veto message demonstrated a lack of respect to the members of the Kansas General Assembly who had carefully crafted and resoundingly passed The Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, as well as to the many Kansans who find it more than embarrassment, in no small part due to several previous vetoes by Governor Sebelius of earlier legislative efforts to regulate abortion clinics, that Kansas has become infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest.

What makes the Governor’s rhetoric and actions even more troubling has been her acceptance of campaign contributions from Wichita’s Dr. George Tiller, perhaps the most notorious late-term abortionist in the nation. In addition to Dr. Tiller’s direct donations to her campaign, the Governor has benefited from the Political Action Committees funded by Dr. Tiller to support pro-abortion candidates in Kansas.

In her veto message, the Governor took credit for lower abortion rates in Kansas citing her support for “adoption incentives, extended health services for pregnant women, providing sex education and offering a variety of support services for families.” Indeed, the Governor and her Administration should be commended for supporting adoption incentives and health services for pregnant women.

However, the Governor over-reaches by assuming credit for declining abortion rates in Kansas. Actually, lower abortion rates are part of a national trend. Our neighboring state of Missouri has actually had a steeper and longer decline in its abortion rate.