As evidenced in his answers, Becerra actually wants to expand access to chemical abortions by allowing remote prescription of the abortion pill regimen, Severino said.
When pressed by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) on his push to deregulate the abortion pill regimen during the pandemic, despite its “serious complications,” Becerra answered that the government should allow chemical abortions to be prescribed through Telehealth and dispensed remotely.
“And the fact that we are able to dispense care without having to have our families actually show up at the doctor’s office now—through Telehealth and other means—is something that we should really build on,” he said.
Pro-abortion groups have pushed for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove its safety regulations of the abortion pill regimen. Since 2000, the regimen has been on a list of higher-risk procedures and requires in-person prescription at a medical clinic, by a certified prescriber.
Pro-abortion groups pushed for the regulations to be halted during the pandemic, and for the regimen to be prescribed remotely via Telehealth and shipped to women. In January, the Supreme Court upheld the FDA’s protocol during the pandemic.
Severino said that Becerra “made clear that he will expand chemical abortions through the use of technology, even if it increases the threats to the safety of the woman.”
When asked by Sen. Mitt Romney why he voted against a partial-birth abortion ban in 2003 as a U.S. congressman, Becerra would not answer why, and emphasized the health secretary’s duty of promoting public health.
“[E]veryone wants to make sure that, if you have an opportunity, you’re going to live a healthy life,” Becerra said. He emphasized the existence of “deeply-held beliefs on this issue” and promised to “find some common ground on these issues.”
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also reminded Becerra of “where you actually took to court the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
After the Trump administration in 2017 granted the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups broad religious and moral exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate, Becerra sued the administration, alleging that it had violated procedural law in crafting its exemptions. The lawsuit resulted in the Catholic sisters returning to court to defend their religious exemption.
The Supreme Court in 2020 ruled in favor of the Trump administration, but President Biden has said he would scrap the religious exemptions to the mandate in favor of the Obama administration’s previous regulations. As the Little Sisters of the Poor had sued over the Obama administration’s rule, Biden’s promise could reignite the sisters’ years-long court battles over the mandate.
“It’s notable that he [Becerra] refused to explain why he was in favor of partial-birth abortion, and refused to pledge to leave the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups free to operate according to their religious beliefs on human life and morality,” Severino told CNA.