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Senate committee splits on Becerra confirmation

March 3, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Mar 3, 2021 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- The Senate Finance Committee was divided on the confirmation of Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

In voting to favorably recommend the confirmation of Becerra to the … […]

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Former HHS official: Becerra could promote abortion internationally

February 25, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2021 / 11:16 am (CNA).- A former official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warned Thursday that health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra could pose grave implications for the global pro-life cause.


If confirmed as HHS Secretary, Becerra’s priority in the job would be abortion, said Valerie Huber, former U.S. Special Representative for Global Women’s Health at HHS, during an interview on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly that will air Thursday night. 


“Having someone who is such a radical pro-abortion advocate will move that agenda to its limits,” Huber said. 


Becerra is currently California’s attorney general. During his tenure, he has upheld state pro-abortion laws that forced crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions, and required Catholic nuns to have abortion coverage in their health plans. He has also pushed for easier access to the abortion pill regimen and supported lawsuits against abortion restrictions in other states. 


At his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Becerra would not name a single abortion restriction that he supported. 


Huber noted the Biden administration has already allowed for U.S. global health assistance to fund international pro-abortion groups by repealing the Mexico City Policy. 


“By its being rescinded, that means that U.S. taxpayer dollars are going to be used to promote and to fund NGOs around the world who provide abortion,” Huber said. 


She said Becerra’s nomination could also have a wide-ranging impact on abortion not just within the United States, but overseas. 


“Most pro-life advocates here in the United States and citizens who don’t want their taxpayer dollars used for abortion often focus only on what’s happening here within the borders of the United States government,” Huber said. 


“What that does is gives a president and an HHS secretary who is so focused on abortion plenty of space for mischief-making that could result in abortion being deemed an international human right,” she said. 


Huber added that HHS is “ground zero for either the protection of life or the promotion of abortion.” She called Becerra “unfit” for the role of HHS secretary. 


During Becerra’s confirmation hearing this week, he was pressed by senators on his record on abortion and religious freedom. 


In one exchange during Becerra’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), asked Becerra why he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion. 


Becerra replied, “When I come to these issues, I understand that we may not always agree on where to go, but I think we can find some common ground on these issues.”


Romney said, “I think we can reach common ground on many issues, but on partial-birth abortion it sounds like we’re not going to reach common ground there.”


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Democrats for Life oppose Becerra nomination

February 23, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

CNA Staff, Feb 23, 2021 / 04:35 pm (CNA).- The nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary has been opposed by Democrats For Life of America, which has called for his nomination to be withdrawn… […]

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Health secretary nominee grilled on partial-birth abortion, taxpayer-funded abortion

February 23, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 23, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).- President Biden’s nominee for health secretary on Tuesday would not commit to preventing federal funding of abortions, and would not say why he once opposed a partial-birth abortion ban.


Appearing before members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday, California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra would not answer why he voted against a partial-birth abortion ban in 2003, while a U.S. congressman.


If confirmed as health secretary, Becerra said he would try to find “common ground” with those whom he disagreed with on the issue.


“I think we can find some common ground on these issues, because everyone wants to make sure that, if you have an opportunity, you’re going to live a healthy life,” Becerra said in response to a question by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.); the senator had asked why Becerra, as a congressman, voted against a partial-birth abortion ban.


“I think we can reach common ground on many issues. But on partial-birth abortion, it sounds like we’re not going to reach common ground there,” Romney said in response.


Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), also said on Tuesday that he would “follow the law” on federal funding of abortion, as health secretary.


Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) noted Becerra’s “very extreme” record on abortion, and asked him to commit “to not using taxpayer money to fund abortions and abortion providers.”


Becerra did not commit to that, but simply made a promise to “definitely follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources,” and noted that “we probably will not agree on all the issues.”


Although the Hyde Amendment has traditionally banned the use of federal dollars for elective abortions, President Biden has supported the repeal of the policy, and the White House has not guaranteed that an upcoming COVID relief bill would not include abortion funding.


Other Democratic congressional leaders have also said they intend to not include the policy in appropriations bills this year; the Hyde Amendment is enacted each year as a rider to budget bills, specifying that the appropriations cannot be used for elective abortions.


Pro-life groups criticized Becerra for his answers on abortion.


His answer on partial-birth abortion should “disqualify” him from the position, tweeted Democrats for Life of America. “He is far too radical to run this department. There are better choices,” the group stated.


The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List tweeted “Mr. Becerra, you’re applying for the top health job in the nation. You don’t get to make up imaginary terms like ‘future baby’.”


Other pro-life groups have criticized Becerra’s record on abortion, noting that as California attorney general, he prosecuted pro-life activist David Daleiden and enforced a state universal abortion coverage mandate; the mandate affected even Catholic religious, forcing them to provide abortion coverage for employees. Becerra also defended a state law that required crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions.


The HHS Office for Civil Rights twice found Becerra and California in violation of federal conscience laws; when the office gave Becerra 30 days to comply with conscience laws back in Jan., 2020, Becerra refused. The agency eventually said it would withhold $200 million in Medicaid funds to California, as a result of the state’s violation of federal law.


When the Trump administration granted broad religious and moral exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate in 2017, Becerra sued; the lawsuit pushed the Little Sisters of the Poor to go back to court to defend their religious exemption to the mandate.


During the pandemic, Becerra pushed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to liberalize its regulations of the abortion pill regimen.


Becerra was asked on Tuesday about his efforts to push the FDA to allow for remote prescription of the abortion pill regimen during COVID.


In response to Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Becerra said that his letter to the FDA “was to make sure that all Americans had access to the care they needed without needing to worry about COVID becoming a danger.”


He led other state attorneys general in pushing for coverage of “gender-affirming treatment,” in October.