Joe Biden announced on Monday that he has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The pick was denounced by pro-life groups and others, who noted that Becerra is “aggressively pro-abortion” as he defended a state law requiring pregnancy centers to provide information on where to obtain free abortions and also prosecuted David Daleiden, the man who recorded undercover videos about Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby body parts.
“AG Becerra has tried to force churches to pay for abortion pills, require pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion [and] prosecute reporters for exposing the illegal actions of Planned Parenthood,” wrote the March for Life following the announcement. “So much for ‘unity, Biden.”
Becerra was among those announced as being a part of Biden’s COVID team, although Biden misstated his position as “secretary of Health and Education Services” and mispronounced his last name as “Baccharia.”
A former U.S. congressman and state assembly member, Becerra had been appointed as California’s attorney general in 2016 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to replace former Attorney General Kamala Harris — now apparently the next vice president — after she was elected as U.S. senator.
As previously reported, Becerra took the baton from Harris in going after pro-life investigator David Daleiden and his co-laborer Sandra Merritt. Last year, he charged the two with ten criminal counts, which could place them behind bars for a decade.
Daleiden and Merritt had recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood and its business partners undercover, posing as representatives from a fetal tissue procurement company called BioMax.
Becerra was also the first to sue the current HHS in 2018 over its updates to rules surrounding the federal Title X family planning services funding program, which disqualified abortion facilities — such as those run by Planned Parenthood — from receiving federal funds, as well as any locations that promote, support or refer for abortions.
The Center for Responsive Politics reveals that Planned Parenthood donated to Becerra’s political campaigns on several occasions, as early as 1998. The organization gave $1,000 in 2014, $2,000 in 2012, $500 in 2004, $1,000 in 2002, and $1,035 in 1998.
He led an amicus brief in 2018 supporting Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against HHS for altering funding criteria to prefer groups that promote abstinence and work with faith-based entities.
In 2017, he filed suit to challenge the Trump administration’s expansion of the religious exemption to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, also known as the “abortion pill mandate.”
Becerra additionally defended California’s Reproductive FACT Act all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The law had required pro-life pregnancy centers in the state to provide information to clients regarding how they can take part in government programs that would allow them to obtain an abortion at little or no cost.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike the statute, opining that the State has ample avenues to disseminate its desired message without having to force pro-life pregnancy centers to essentially advertise for abortion services against their convictions.
Word of Becerra’s nomination drew opposition this week from pro-life groups and members of Congress alike.
“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,” wrote Lila Rose of Live Action. “He didn’t prosecute the killers. He went after the pro-life reporters.”
“With his choice of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for HHS Secretary, Joe Biden has proven yet again he is an extremist on abortion,” also remarked the Susan B. Anthony List. “We call on Republican senators to stand firm & stop this unacceptable nomination from going forward.”
Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he would do just that.
“Xavier Becerra spent his career attacking pro-life Americans and tried to force crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortions. He’s been a disaster in California and he is unqualified to lead HHS. I’ll be voting no, and Becerra should be rejected by the Senate,” he tweeted.
“Xavier Becerra is a disaster for religious freedom and pro-life issues,” likewise declared Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. “He has made his career aggressively pursuing a radical pro-abortion agenda and attacking the religious freedom of Americans who believe in the sanctity of human life.”