A planned graduation speech by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Georgetown University is going forward, despite criticism from the Archdiocese of Washington that Sebelius is an inappropriate choice for the Jesuit school.
The Archdiocese said in a statement Tuesday that Sebelius's actions as a public official “present the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history.” Sebelius helped shape President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law, which mandates that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control for workers. Catholic bishops have led opposition to the mandate.
Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, is scheduled to speak Friday at a ceremony for graduates of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute. A Georgetown spokeswoman said Wednesday that the plans have not changed.
Students of the Public Policy Institute, who picked Sebelius, said in a letter to the Georgetown president and dean that she was selected because her role in public policy is about more than making and implementing policy.
“(We) expect that her remarks will not be a political statement, but will reflect the experiences she has had throughout her life in public service,” the letter read.
Faculty members also wrote a letter defending Sebelius's selection.
The Supreme Court heard arguments last month on the 2010 health care overhaul, which would expand coverage to tens of millions of people. The court's conservative majority appeared deeply skeptical of the key provision, a requirement for individual health insurance.