Forget swine flu! What about abortion?

Sarah Palin's supporters fight Obama's nomination for secretary of health and human services.

Published April 28, 2009 4:28PM (EDT)

Amid growing concern about swine flu, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is expected to get the nod from the Senate today to become secretary of health and human services, despite fierce opposition from pro-life Republicans. Yet, with 60 votes needed, the vote could be a squeaker.

So far, there have been just 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including infections in California, Kansas, New York City, Ohio and Texas. And the administration has begun moving stockpiles of antiviral drugs to the impacted areas. Yet, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano predicted Tuesday that swine flu will appear in more states in the days ahead.

But, as the Christian Science Monitor reports, the piggy influenza outbreak has not stopped anti-choice Republicans from trying to derail Obama's pro-choice pick for public health champion. Apparently, in their view, debating abortion rights trumps having a leader in place to deal with an actual public health emergency.

As recently as Monday, Team Sarah, a group of 70,000 supporters of Sarah Palin sent out an action alert urging sympathizers to call Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who is anti-abortion, to ask him to vote against Sebelius' confirmation.

However, it's not as if Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin herself is leading the pro-lifer charge against Sebelius. Team Sarah members may revere Palin, but the former veep candidate has no formal connection to the group, according to the Alaska Daily News.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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