The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed pediatrician Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in a 52-48 vote, with two Republicans voting yes alongside Democrats.
Levine, Pennsylvania’s former top health official who is biologically male but identifies as female, is the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the Senate.
Levine, who will serve under newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, vowed to “promote policies that advance the health and well-being of all Americans” and to fight for transgender youth.
Wednesday’s vote followed a contentious confirmation hearing during which Levine was questioned about her handling of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 crisis as well as her beliefs about transgender rights for youths.
Specifically, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pressed Levine on where she stands on genital mutilation of minors who may be confused about gender identity and want to take hormones or have surgery to alter their body.
Levine avoided a direct answer, responding: “Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.”
The Family Research Council warns that Levine will use this new appointment to target and punish parents and people of faith for their beliefs on gender and abortion.
“While serving as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, Levine has advocated sex changes for children and adolescents and failed to competently manage Pennsylvania’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
FRC’s Travis Weber, vice president for policy and government affairs, said Levine could be “the most extreme radical ever confirmed by the Senate.”
“Levine is distinguished by his extremist views and his penchant to punish those who don’t share them,” Weber said. “He has openly admitted that children as young as five or six should choose whether to be a boy or a girl, despite their parents’ wishes. He has described religious freedom protections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate as ‘immoral and unethical.’
“Levine’s crusade against religious liberty would only be made worse by bills like the Equality Act or Fairness for All, both of which HHS would have a hand in implementing. Yet under the Biden administration, HHS is being led by radical political appointees like Levine and Xavier Becerra,” concluded Weber.
With Levine at the helm of HHS, Planned Parenthood will look to expand its tentacles further into the expansion of abortion and harmful gender ideology, said Mary Szoch, director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity. “Levine has already indicated multiple ways in which he would make tens of millions more dollars available to the abortion giant, which recently branched into targeting children for transgender experiments.”
Allie Beth Stuckey, host of the “Relatable” podcast, put the new assistant secretary’s appointment in perspective on Twitter.
“Now leading Biden’s Dept of Health and Human Services are Xavier Becerra, former AG of CA infamous for his dogged pursuit of pro-life orgs and his refusal to vote against a ban on partial birth abortion, and Rachel Levine, who supports gender transition for kids w/o parental consent,” she tweeted.
As assistant health secretary, Levine will run the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH), which oversees the nation’s public health policy. The post is a key administration role as the White House tackles the deepening Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Americans. But Levine will also play an important role in rolling back a host of Trump-era policies on reproductive, adolescent and LGBTQ health.
Above: Rachel Levine speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in Washington, D.C., February 25.
Photo: Caroline Brehman/Pool via Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo