In December, then-President-elect Joe Biden tapped Xavier Becerra—former congressman and current attorney general of California—to be the next HHS Secretary. This week, Becerra is appearing before two U.S. Senate committees at his confirmation hearings. The committees will then either vote to send his confirmation to the entire Senate favorably, unfavorably, or without its recommendation, or may not take action on his confirmation.
As attorney general of California, Becerra repeatedly defended the state’s pro-abortion laws while also prosecuting pro-life activists. He also led other state attorneys general in fighting state abortion restrictions in court.
Becerra defended the state’s Reproductive FACT Act, a law passed in 2015 before his tenure that forced crisis pregnancy centers to advertise where clients could get abortions. The court battles over the law reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2018 that the law violated the free speech rights of pregnancy centers.
He also continued the state’s prosecution of pro-life activist David Daleiden, for his 2015 undercover videos claiming that Planned Parenthood unlawfully profited from the fetal tissue of aborted babies. The previous attorney general, current Vice President Kamala Harris, initiated the prosecution of Daleiden.
Critics have also objected to Becerra’s efforts to promote federal funding of fetal tissue research.
Becerra defended the state’s 2014 mandate which forced even Catholic religious— the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit—to provide abortion coverage in employee health plans. For this action—as well as for the state’s previous enforcement of the Reproductive FACT Act—the HHS Office for Civil Rights issued notices of violation to the state.
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Earlier in the pandemic, Becerra advocated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2017, he sued the Trump administration for giving broad religious and moral exemptions from the HHS mandate, including to the Little Sisters of the Poor.
While a congressman, Becerra voted against a partial-birth abortion ban and also opposed a bill that criminalized the killing of an unborn child resulting from an assault on the mother.