By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
President-elect Barack Obama has named former Senator Tom Daschle, a pro-abortion lapsed Catholic, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, a position that oversees policies including those on abortion.
The former Senator Minority Leader from South Dakota was tapped mostly to help push health care reform through Congress. Although his position on abortion only earned him a 50 percent approval rating from the radical pro-abortion NARAL, he supported enough anti-life legislation to cause his bishop to ask him to stop referring to himself as a Catholic.
According to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) Daschle experienced a radical change of heart on life issues since running for elected office. He began his career as a staunch defender of life who once had the nuns who taught him in grade school write a letter to South Dakota voters swearing that he would always fight against abortion.
However, by 2002, Daschle had experienced a change of heart and began to frequently vote against life while serving in Congress. Although he supported the ban on partial birth abortion and voted in favor of imposing penalties on those who harm fetuses while committing a violent crime, he voted to allow human cloning and to expand research on human embryos. He also voted in favor of making taxpayers fund abortions in a variety of circumstances, including funding groups that promote and perform abortions overseas and the performance of abortions at military base hospitals.
These and other votes against life caused the former bishop of Sioux Falls, Bishop Robert Carlson, to engage in many conversations with Daschle over the years about his moral beliefs and voting record. When Daschle’s voting behavior didn’t change, in April of 2003, Bishop Carlson sent him a letter asking him to remove all references to being a member of the Catholic Church from his congressional biography.
Instead of quietly agreeing to the recommendation, Daschle chose to publicly rebuke the bishop on the floor of the Senate where he accused Bishop Carlson of acting in a way “more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership.”
If his appointment is approved by Congress, he will be in a position to make sure Obama’s health care plan includes abortion and/or mandating that hospitals and insurance companies cover abortions.
He may also be able to reverse the protections the Bush administration is expected to put in place any day now for pro-life doctors and medical centers, protecting them from being forced to participate in abortion practices that violate their moral and religious beliefs.
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