At hearing, Becerra won’t name single abortion restriction he favors

Xavier_Becerra_2_vasilis_asvestas_Shutterstock.jpg Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services Credit: Vasilis Asvestas / Shutterstock

President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services declined at a hearing Wednesday to state if he would support any theoretical type of restriction on abortion. 

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) questioned California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra during his confirmation hearing with the Senate Committee on Finance. Daines said he had “serious concerns” with Becerra’s “radical views” on abortion, and noted that many Montanans, as well as national pro-life groups, had voiced their opposition to their nomination.

In an effort to give Becerra a chance to “push back” against this view, Daines asked him if he could “name one abortion restriction that you might support.” 

“I have tried to make sure that I am abiding by the law, because whether it’s a particular restriction, or whether it’s the whole idea of abortion, whether we agree or not, we have to come to some conclusion,” said Becerra.

Daines pressed back, asking if there was “any line” that Becerra would draw, asking him to name “just one” restriction that he might support. 

Becerra then reminded Daines that his wife is an OB/GYN who has cared for babies “for decades,” and then said that his mother was praying the Rosary for him and had “blessed” him that morning prior to his hearing. He did not provide a restriction he may support. 

Daines asked if Becerra would support a ban on abortion following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Again, Becerra refused to answer, saying, “I respect the different views that are out there, but what’s important to make sure that my view is in according with the law.”

Becerra declined to comment if he would support a ban on sex-selective abortion or a ban on partial-birth abortion, saying that he would “respect those who take a particular view,” but that his job would be “following the law.” 

Partial-birth abortion was outlawed in the United States in 2003. Becerra did not say he was opposed to this ban, nor did he say he supported it. 

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.

As attorney general of California, he 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.

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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.

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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