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Catholics in Biden’s cabinet mirror him on abortion

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While President Joe Biden has nominated a number of Catholics to serve in his cabinet, some of them have publicly contradicted Church teaching on abortion.

Joe Biden on Wednesday became the 46th president of the United States and only the second Catholic to hold that office. 

While U.S. bishops offered him their prayers and congratulations upon his inauguration, and noted areas of agreement such as immigration and protecting the environment, the bishops’ conference also noted that Biden had promoted “policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”

Like Biden himself, many of the Catholics he has nominated to cabinet roles have also publicly supported pro-abortion policies--and they could further these policies in their administrative roles. 

Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, was previously attorney general of California. In that role he defended the state’s law mandating that medically licensed pro-life pregnancy centers advertise where clients could obtain abortions. 

The Reproductive FACT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2018. Kamala Harris, now the vice president, also defended the law as attorney general of California before she was elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Becerre also defended a state mandate of abortion coverage in employer-provided health plans; pro-life and Catholic groups, including the religious community Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, challenged the mandate.

Becerra previously served as a congressman from California, where the National Right to Life Committee gave him a 100 percent pro-abortion score. Politico reported in December that pro-abortion groups view their “pressure campaign” towards Biden as “wildly successful,” in part because of Becerra’s nomination. 

Should Becerra be confirmed as health secretary, his role at HHS would allow him to roll back certain pro-life rules and policies, as well as conscience protections for health care workers. 

Biden nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to serve as Secretary of Labor. During his campaign for mayor in 2013, Walsh’s campaign website said that the disparity in the number of pro-life pregnancy centers to abortion clinics in Boston was detrimental to women’s health.

“In terms of reproductive choices, crisis pregnancy centers outnumber women's health providers in Boston three to one, seriously undermining women's access to quality family planning, appropriate counseling, and overall choice,” the website said. 

Walsh also recieved a “Men for Choice” award from NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts in 2016, according to the Boston Globe. Walsh stressed to that “I’m a pro-choice candidate, I’m a pro-choice mayor, I was a pro-choice legislator.

Three other cabinet nominees--Gina Raimondo, Tom Vilsack, and Jennifer Granholm--all backed pro-abortion measures in their roles as governor of Rhode Island, Iowa, and Michigan, respectively. Raimondo has been tapped to lead the Commerce Department, Vilsack the Agriculture Department, and Granholm the Department of Energy.

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Denis McDonough, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, served as White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama, who held pro-abortion policy positions. 

McDonough was reportedly among the administration staff who pushed Obama to soften the rules on the HHS contraceptive mandate in 2012, to accommodate objecting religious groups. However, many groups including the Little Sisters of the Poor and the USCCB still opposed that revised rule, saying it required unacceptable participation in the immoral provision of contraceptive coverage.


Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden’s nominee to serve as defense secretary, has not taken a public policy position on the issue of abortion in his military roles. Austin is also a Catholic, and has ties to the Biden family through the president’s late son Beau Biden, with whom he served in Iraq.

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