Joe Biden’s choice of Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a Biden administration has drawn sharp rebukes from pro-life and religious liberty advocates for Becerra’s history of hostile actions toward the pro-life cause.
Biden, who has spoken of uniting the nation, announced on Dec. 7 his choice of Becerra, California’s attorney general since 2017 and prior to that a longtime Democratic congressman from the Golden State.
“ADF had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to stop Becerra from forcing religious pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions,” said Kristen Waggoner, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, who helped California crisis pregnancy centers defend themselves against Becerra’s insistence that they promote abortion against their religious beliefs and free speech rights. “He is an extremist who has no regard for conscience or protecting life. There’s nothing moderate about this pick. Nothing.”
The California law Waggoner alludes to, AB 775, required licensed medical centers that offered pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services, with a phone number that provided abortion referrals. Unlicensed pregnancy resource centers were forced to prominently post that they were not licensed by the state as medical facilities. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled for the pregnancy centers, 5-4, making clear the government cannot force people to spread messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.
AB 775 hasn’t been Becerra’s only tussle with the right-to-life cause.
He led the prosecution against the pro-life organization Center for Medical Progress that exposed, in a series of secretly recorded videos, Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of organs from aborted babies.
He has also led multi-state lawsuits as California attorney general:
- against the Catholic charity Little Sisters of the Poor and other pro-life organizations, attempting to force them to cover abortion and abortion-causing drugs in their employee health plans. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the nuns.
- against laws curbing abortion in Ohio, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri based on gestational age and certain conditions, such as an infant’s sex or diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Becerra, who like Biden claims to be Roman Catholic, had a long record of opposing right-to-life legislation in Congress. He voted against the partial-birth abortion ban, as well as a law that would have kept minors from being moved across state lines for abortions without parental consent, and against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which made it a federal crime to harm or kill a preborn child during commission of a violent crime.
Pro-life activist Lila Rose of Live Action Network tweeted: “In picking Xavier Becerra, @JoeBiden shows that not only will he force taxpayers to fund the slaughter of preborn children at the will of their parents (repeal of #Hyde), but he supports the prosecution of Americans who dare to expose the unprecedented evils of Planned Parenthood.”
Students for Life in America (SFLA) took Becerra to task for his lobbying the FDA to suspend safety rules during the COVID-19 pandemic to make chemical abortions easier to obtain. SFLA has begun a petition urging the Senate to reject Becerra’s confirmation for his “radical, pro-abortion activism.”
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