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From Raw Story:
President Barack Obama has tapped an anti-abortion activist to a senior Health and Human Services “faith-based” position just a week after the murder of prominent abortion doctor George Tiller.
Alexia Kelley is executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), and will head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, “Kelley is a leading proponent of ‘common ground’ abortion reduction — only CACG’s common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion.”
But wait! There’s more to the story. Ms. Kelley is a progressive who supported Obama as well as Kathleen Sebelius as head of HHS, in opposition to her own Bishop.
From the Catholic News Agency:
Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2009 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” one of the pro-Obama Catholic organizations that strongly supported the appointment of the former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been named Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the HHS.
Kelley co-founded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in 2005 and co-authored with Chris Korzen, “A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division.”
Both Kelley and Korzen have supported controversial political decisions and appointments made by the Obama administration, including the suspension of the Mexico City Policy and the decision to allow federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. Kelley and Korzen lent their support despite both measures drawing criticism from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
From the Raw Story post linked above, Catholics for Choice are not happy with the appointment:
Catholics for Choice criticized the pick in a press release, Posner notes.
“The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for providing and expanding access to key sexual and reproductive health services,” the group said. “As such, we need those working in HHS to rely on evidence-based methods to reduce the need for abortion. We need them to believe in men’s and women’s capacity to make moral decisions about their own lives. Unfortunately, as seen from her work at CACG, Ms. Kelley does not fit the bill.”
From the admittedly small bit of research I’ve done on this, it seems Ms. Kelley is of the new school of anti-abortion activists — willing to try to find common ground to reduce abortion rather than only pushing to criminalize it.
I can see why Obama would find it attractive to appoint someone who reflects the same kind of middle ground he searches for on many issues.
Me, I’m not much on middle ground when it comes to abortion. I don’t think the government should tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body. And as the Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the HHS, Kelley would have a lot to do with the troubles lower income women already have in obtaining abortions.
As noted in The American Prospect:
Kelley is a leading proponent of “common ground” abortion reduction — only CACG’s common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion. That is an extremely disturbing development, especially coming this week in the wake of George Tiller’s assassination.
Under George W. Bush, the faith-based centers didn’t play a policy role. But Obama has expanded the faith-based project to include a policy side, and one of its chief goals is to reduce the need for abortion. I have opposed this, because reproductive health is a public health, not a religious issue. Also problematic: It is counterproductive for Obama to appoint someone who disagrees with the administration’s stance. Obama finds himself now in the difficult position of having elevated the importance of religion to making policy, and having appointed a religious figure whose opinions on policy conflict with his.
Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women’s Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women’s health “are not all perfect; some include contraception — which the Church opposes.” Never mind that more than 90 percent of American Catholics use it anyway.
So now we are seeing the new face of the anti-choice movement, a young progressive woman who knows how to speak in a moderate fashion and can be pragmatic in seeking the goal of “reducing” abortion.
And the poorest and most vulnerable women will become the testing ground for this new paradigm. Will we see access reduced for those women who already have problems finding abortion care? Will we even know if that happens?
I agree with the American Prospect. Abortion is a public health, not a religious issue. I look forward to the day when that is a settled fact in our culture.