Picking up on an issue that seems to move to the foreground in presidential election years, the archbishop of Kansas City, Kans., has told Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, not to receive communion. He was reacting to her recent veto of anti-abortion legislation. The Kansas City Star reports that Archbishop Joseph Naumann told the paper he expects a confession, a public apology and a promise to undo the damage done by the veto, which was barely sustained last month.Sebelius, a Democrat, vetoed a bill designed to aid in enforcement of the state's restrictions on late-term abortions. Anti-abortion activists, a strong force in Kansas, have been frustrated that a particular doctor in Wichita has eluded the law. The bill proposed that a broad range of relatives of a pregnant woman be permitted to sue to prevent the abortion of a fetus past 21 weeks of gestation. Sebelius said that since there was no provision to protect the mother's life, the measure was unconstitutional. She also objected that it would lead to excessive litigation.T he Kansan controversy could have implications for the presidential race. Gov. Sebelius has endorsed Barack Obama, who has Kansas roots, and is being mentioned here and there as a possible vice-presidential candidate. Her father, John Gilligan, was governor of swing-state Ohio in the 1970s, making them the only father-daughter governors in U.S. history. And she's been successful in getting votes in a heavily Republican state. And she would conceivably help Obama by connecting with women and Catholics.The Star makes the point that another local bishop had a much different take on this issue during the last presidential campaign: "Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph told a Star columnist, I dont think I have any right to invade another persons conscience when they come to me. For more, and a copy of the archbishop's statement, check here.I hope that others who are more acquainted with Kansas politics will add more.
Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses.