Biden Raises the Stakes on the Becerra Nomination

Published February 2, 2021

National Review Online

At the same time that he rescinded the Mexico City policy last week, President Joe Biden also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to consider undoing another pro-life policy, which prohibits abortion providers from claiming federal funding under the Title X family-planning program.

Under the Trump-administration regulation, abortion groups must financially separate their provision of abortion from any other services or else forgo Title X funding. In all likelihood, that policy will be thrown out by the incoming HHS, especially if the Senate votes to confirm Biden’s nominee, California attorney general Xavier Becerra.

Evidently, the Biden administration chose Becerra to head HHS not because of any relevant qualifications — he has none — but specifically because of his reputation as a progressive culture warrior. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere on NRO, Becerra has essentially no expertise or experience in the realm of health-care policy, and he has built his political career by pushing for radicalization on nearly every social issue. Here’s a bit of what I covered in that piece:

As a congressman from California, he received a 100 percent rating from leading abortion-rights groups Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

. . . Becerra voted “against the Conscience Protection Act of 2016, which barred the federal as well as any state or local government from penalizing or discriminating against health-care providers that do not ‘perform, refer for, pay for, or otherwise participate in abortion.’” Becerra also voted against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would have made it illegal to perform an abortion chosen on the basis of the unborn child’s sex.

As California’s attorney general, Becerra filed felony charges against pro-life activists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s involvement in illegally selling body parts of aborted babies. Becerra also has defended a California law that requires churches to cover elective abortion in their health-insurance plans. . . .

Becerra also led the way in enforcing a state law that required all pro-life pregnancy-resource centers in the state to advertise for California’s free or low-cost abortions. That law was such a blatant violation of free speech that it was overturned by the Supreme Court. He has also led coalitions of blue states in conducting a series of efforts to expand abortion access, attacking red states for enacting pro-life policies, attempting to undo Trump-administration restrictions on funding for abortion providers, and lobbying the federal government to loosen safety regulations on chemical-abortion drugs.

In other words, if confirmed, Becerra will gleefully heed Biden’s advice and wipe from the books not only the pro-life Title X policy but every policy on the books that encouraged moderation on the part of the federal bureaucracy. We can expect that, under Becerra, HHS will once again fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers through Title X, insist that Obamacare be interpreted to cover gender-reassignment surgery and abortion, and bring down the fist of the federal government against religious groups that refuse to subsidize abortion-inducing drugs.

Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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