Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden is fulfilling predictions that his administration will be the most militantly pro-abortion of any in American history. His nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for Secretary of Health and Human Services is an expression of Biden’s commitment to force extreme, oppressive abortion policy on the American public. As California AG, Becerra has been a tool of the abortion industry. Biden has rewarded the pro-choice lobby’s support of his candidacy by appointing Planned Parenthood’s unofficial spokesman and advocate. The Becerra pick has nothing to do with health care policy in the United States, and everything to do with enforcing a radical abortion agenda.
With a BA in economics and a law degree from Stanford University, Becerra has no credentials or expertise in medicine, public health, or any other discipline related to health care services. A career politician in California state and federal government, his sole “qualification” for the head of the federal bureaucracy charged with national health care policy is his aggressive pro-abortion activism. And Becerra’s nomination as head of HHS demonstrates that unfettered access to publicly funded abortion will be at the center of a Biden Administration's public “health” policy agenda. This will be Becerra’s beat, and if confirmed, he will be ruthless in executing it.
During his twenty-four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Becerra consistently received perfect scores from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. During his tenure, no member of Congress exceeded his enthusiasm for abortion for any or no reason up to, and even during, the birth of a child. It is not surprising that Planned Parenthood giddily endorsed the choice, calling Becerra a “decades-long champion” of “sexual and reproductive health care access.” Planned Parenthood praised Becerra for “fighting to address health care inequities and further critical access care” (read: publicly funded abortion on demand and without exceptions).
Becerra is not content with simply protecting access to abortion. Judging by his tenure as California AG, as Secretary of HHS he is certain to insist that dissenters be punished and objectors prosecuted. When he succeeded Kamala Harris as California attorney general in 2017, Becerra energetically adopted Harris’s pro-abortion policies and activities. For example, he continued criminal prosecution of citizen journalist David Daleiden for his routine 60-Minutes-style investigative reporting—solely because it exposed Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in human body parts.
Becerra also represented California in litigation over the state’s unsuccessful defense of the “Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act.” The FACT Act would have required pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post notices advertising abortion clinics and provide informational brochures to clients about free contraception and abortion services nearby. The FACT Act made California a marketing and advertising agency for Planned Parenthood and other abortion mills, and would have forced pro-life pregnancy centers to be complicit in its campaign. The Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018, but it demonstrates the extent of Becerra’s loyalty to the abortion industry. More important, it illustrates his commitment to forcing extreme abortion ideology on everyone, including those with good-faith objections to abortion. The FACT Act was not about protecting abortion access; it was about imposing a moral and political agenda. No compromise, no discussion, no exceptions.
Even then-justice Anthony Kennedy, whose pro-abortion credentials were impeccable, condemned the Act for its “serious threat . . . to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions.” “This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs,” Kennedy continued. “Beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.”
In 2017, Becerra joined Pennsylvania in suing the Little Sisters of the Poor in federal court, trying to force the religious order to facilitate and finance abortion and contraception for its lay employees under the Affordable Care Act. The nuns won a hard-fought 7-2 victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in July 2020. But Biden has said that his administration will sue the nuns again. If confirmed as head of HHS, Becerra would be in charge of fulfilling this promise to continue such persecution. He would oversee the formation and execution of policies under the ACA that would seek to force employers to fund and facilitate abortion and contraception for their employees despite conscientious objection to such procedures, coercion that Planned Parenthood has also celebrated.
In 2007, for example, Becerra co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would have required employers who cover prescription drugs in their health care plans to cover contraception. And he voted against the Conscience Protection Act of 2016, which would have prevented the federal government from denying federal funds to Catholic hospitals and other facilities that refuse to perform abortions. For Becerra, it is not sufficient to protect access to abortion. As Planned Parenthood’s errand boy, he will insist that taxpayers fund it; and he will attempt to refuse funding to those in health care who do not bend the knee.
The nomination of Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services is not about health care policy. It is about imposing rigid, fundamentalist, pro-abortion ideology on the country and rewarding Planned Parenthood for its support of Biden’s candidacy. Planned Parenthood is calling the tune. Biden, Harris, and Becerra will do the dance.
Kenneth Craycraft is a licensed attorney and the James J. Gardner Family Chair of Moral Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology.
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