Xavier Becerra & HHS: Abortion Culture Warrior

Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, testifies during his confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021. (Leigh Vogel/Reuters)

Senate Democrats have voted to confirm California attorney general Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a sure sign that Joe Biden intends to govern not as a unifier but as a champion of the progressive social agenda.

In Becerra, Biden has selected an HHS secretary with zero health-care expertise, an especially odd choice given Democrats’ insistence that the COVID-19 pandemic is the top public-policy issue with which we must contend. The decision to instate an HHS secretary who hasn’t a single health-care-adjacent policy accomplishment to his name evidently undermines that supposed commitment to advancing public health.

In my latest column at the Catholic Herald, I point out how Biden’s choice to nominate and Senate Democrats’ choice to confirm Becerra has put the lie to the notion that the president intends to lead a moderate executive branch.

At HHS, Becerra is in the chief administrative slot for imposing progressive orthodoxy on a host of social issues including abortion, religious liberty, and conscience rights — and his political career has illustrated exactly how radical he’ll be in each of those areas. More from my column:

During his time in Congress, serving as a U.S. representative from California, Becerra quickly demonstrated his dedication to causes much beloved of the far left. He managed to score a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, with votes such as when he opposed the federal ban on heinous and medically unnecessary partial-birth abortions. . . .

As attorney general of California, Becerra was known most of all as a radical culture warrior. He lost a case at the Supreme Court after championing a California law that compelled crisis-pregnancy centers to advertise for the state’s free or low-cost abortion program — despite those groups’ fundamental opposition to abortion and related commitment to providing women with alternatives.

Becerra has spent the last several years persecuting the people who exposed wrongdoing in the abortion industry. He led a coalition of states in suing the federal government, an effort to ensure that abortion companies such as Planned Parenthood could continue receiving federal funding. He led a second crusade attempting to force the Food and Drug Administration to loosen safety regulations on the chemical-abortion drug.

Though West Virginia senator Joe Manchin decided to vote for Becerra on the grounds that the nominee promised to respect the Hyde amendment — which prevents federal funding from directly underwriting elective abortions — there is no reason to believe that will be the case.

Instead, Becerra is all but certain to immediately begin undoing every pro-life Trump-administration policy, as well as to reimpose the HHS Obamacare mandate, which requires all employers to subsidize contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. The new secretary is so passionate about enforcing the mandate, in fact, that he sued the Trump administration for having instated religious exemptions to it.

The choice to nominate and confirm Becerra illustrates that Democrats care far less about acting as unifiers and addressing the pandemic than they do about using executive power to impose progressive orthodoxy on abortion.

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