July 16, 2009
Obama's Recent Catholic Picks
President Obama chose Regina Benjamin as surgeon general earlier this week, earning initial praise for rebuilding her clinic after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and than destroyed by a fire a year later. She has also done missionary work in Honduras was awarded a medal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
But McClatchy reports that Benjamin "supports the president's position on reproductive health issues." White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said, "Like him she believes that this is an issue where it is important to try and seek common ground and come together to try and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. As a physician, she is deeply committed to the philosophy of putting her patients' needs first when it comes to providing care."
Life News reports that in 1996, she spoke in favor of the American Medical Association's governing body vote to "urge medical schools to expand their curriculum" to teach "more about abortion."
A 2007 interview with the Catholic Digest suggests that her Catholic faith influences her medical practice.
â€œChurch was always a very important part of my life,â€ Benjamin said. â€œI believe I am carrying on the healing ministry of Christ. I feel obligated to help continue his works. I think itâ€™s important to make a difference in everything you do, even if itâ€™s small.â€
Benjamin joins Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius as pro-choice, Catholic officials who will handle health-related issues.
Meanwhile, confirmation hearings continue for Sonia Sotomayor, and Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn wonders why her Catholic faith is not discussed more.
If the indifference to Ms. Sotomayor's Catholicism were truly a sign of a new respect for the "no religious test" provisions of the Constitution, that would be something to celebrate. But in the unlikely case that this "wise Latina" ever comes to see the legal wisdom of overturning Roe and returning abortion to the democratic process, we'll be reading a very different story.
Sotomayor has sidestepped questions that asked about her personal views on abortion, saying that Roe V. Wade is settled and "I will follow the law." She also said that Obama did not ask her opinion on abortion before he nominated her.