Obama picks abortion supporter Daschle to head HHS

Tom Daschle / President-elect Barack Obama
Tom Daschle / President-elect Barack Obama


Tom Daschle has accepted the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services from president-elect Barack Obama.  Daschle's record of supporting anti-life initiatives is extensive enough that his bishop previously asked him to stop calling himself a Catholic.

According to FOX News, “two Democratic sources close to Daschle and with intimate knowledge of the decision” said on Wednesday that the former Senate majority leader has accepted the post.

As the new Health and Human Services chief, Daschle will be responsible for helping implement Obama’s promised government-run health plan.

What is little-known, though, is the fact that Tom Daschle has radically changed his beliefs on life issues since he first ran for office.

Joseph Bottum, a native South Dakotan who writes for The Weekly Standard, relates that Daschle began his political career portraying himself as a staunch defender of life.

“In 1978, Tom Daschle had the nuns who taught him in grade school write a letter to voters in South Dakota swearing he would always fight against abortion.”

But by the time 2002 rolled around, Bottum reports that “he was penning fundraising letters for NARAL and giving fundraising talks for EMILY's List.”

Daschle’s work for pro-abortion groups has led the former bishop of Sioux Falls to speak out against him.

Although Bishop Robert Carlson had been in conversation with Daschle for years about his voting record and beliefs about moral issues, including a public argument over partial-birth abortion in 1997, it wasn’t until April of 2003 that things began to escalate.  At that point Bishop Carlson sent a letter to Tom Daschle telling him that he should removed all references to being a member of the Catholic Church from his congressional biography and campaign documents, Bottum reports.

Daschle responded to the letter from the floor of the Senate in Washington by accusing Bishop Carlson of acting in a way "more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership."

In an interview with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Bishop Carlson expressed his shock at Daschle’s positions on the life issues. "NARAL claims him as one of their number-one supporters. I don't understand how he can be in touch with South Dakotans as much as he is, and yet consistently have a pro-abortion record."

Before he failed to be re-elected to the Senate in 2004, Tom Daschle had a 50 % NARAL rating. His mixed rating is the result of voting for a ban on partial-birth abortions and a vote for penalties for those who harm fetuses while committing a violent crime. On the other hand, Daschle voted to allow human cloning, expand research on human embryos and against banning privately funded abortions on U.S. military installations.

CNA attempted to reach South Dakota Right to Life for comment on Tom Daschle’s record but did not receive a reply before press time.

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