Democrat Joe Biden plans to nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, as first reported by The New York Times Sunday night. Biden is expected to formally announce the pick on Monday or Tuesday.
Becerra served in Congress for 24 years, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, voted against making it a crime to hurt an unborn child during another crime, and voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. After being appointed California attorney general, he carried on the work Sen. Kamala Harris started in prosecuting undercover journalist and pro-life activist David Daleiden on behalf of Planned Parenthood. In 2017, Becerra charged Daleiden with 15 felonies, marking the first time any person in the state has been criminally prosecuted for allegedly violating California’s video recording law.
In 2018, Becerra represented both the pro-abortion and anti-free speech side of the Supreme Court case, NIFLA v. Becerra, in which justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that California can’t force crisis-pregnancy centers to post signs about state-sponsored abortion services.
When the Trump administration HHS revised a rule that bars federally funded contraception clinics and doctors from encouraging abortion or providing abortion referrals, Becerra led one of the lawsuits against the rule, calling it a “gag order.” The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule in February this year, and upon losing the case, Becerra vowed to “continue to fight for comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including safe and legal abortion.”
Becerra’s nomination to HHS chief also means he would be able to continue his war on nuns. Despite winning at the Supreme Court in 2016 over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would force the Catholic organization to offer contraception in health-care plans to celibate nuns, and that the mandate ignores that some forms of contraception act as abortifacients, the Little Sisters of the Poor are still in court thanks to Becerra and the state of California. They are suing in federal court to remove the nuns’ religious exemption.
Despite Biden’s Catholic faith and “moderate” facade, Becerra’s nomination proves the culture war will escalate under a Biden administration, particularly on issues like abortion and religious liberty.
“Far from ‘uniting’ the country, Biden has proven yet again he is an extremist on abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group SBA List. “Becerra is aggressively pro-abortion and a foe of free speech. As attorney general of California, he continued what his predecessor Kamala Harris started by persecuting citizen journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s role in baby parts trafficking.”
Becerra would be Biden’s second Latino nominee, after Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick for homeland security secretary.