Shock and Law: HHS's Becerra Plays Dumb on 2003 Ban

May 14, 2021

If there were such a thing as consistent fact-checking in the media, the head of Biden's HHS would be keeping them all busy. Xavier Becerra, the man with zero experience in health care that President Biden chose to oversee the country's health agencies, proved this week that his ignorance extends well beyond HHS. His abortion radicalism, unfortunately, does too. And that's what conservatives have been warning about from the beginning.

The latest example of Becerra's extremism came Wednesday during a House subcommittee meeting. His medical incompetence aside, there is one thing that a former state attorney general ought to know, and that's the law. Yet even that he ignored in exchange about illegal abortions. "Partial-birth abortions are prohibited right now under current statute," Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) reminded him. Did Becerra, Bilirakis pressed, plan to "follow the law," as he promised in his confirmation hearing?

Becerra, safely ensconced in his position, didn't sugar-coat his agenda. "With due respect, there is no medical term like partial-birth abortion, and so I would probably have to ask you what you mean by that, to describe what is allowed by the law. Roe v Wade is very clear, settled precedent, and a woman has a right to make decisions about her reproductive health. And we will make sure that we enforce the law and protect those rights."

Fine, Bilirakis continued, before pressing the matter. "Do you agree with this particular law?" "Which law are we talking about?" Becerra played dumb. "The law concerning partial-birth abortion," Bilirakis replied, calmly. "Well, again, again as I said, there, there is no law that deals specifically with the term partial birth abortions," he stumbled. "We are, we have, clear precedent in the law on the rights that women have to reproductive health care, and we, as I said in the confirmation hearing, we will follow the law, and protect the rights of all Americans to their health care."

Congressman John Joyce (R-Pa.) pounced. "[I]t didn't seem clear that you understood what my colleague, Mr. Bilirakis, meant by the term partial-birth abortion. I think that it needs to be defined as it is in statute section 1531 of Title 18 U.S. Code, literally titled "Partial-birth abortions prohibited."

Becerra, unfazed, made it clear what his true intentions were. "Thanks for trying to clarify. I actually, I think I understood the question, and I think I understand your question as well. What I'm trying to explain is that the term partial-birth abortion may be recognized in politics, and by politicians, but it is not a medically recognized term." (Said the man with no medical background.) "... What I'm saying to you is that under the law, a physician or any provider of health care, must make sure that he or she abides by the law. And right now what our law says, and it's pretty settled, is that a woman is entitled to reproductive rights."

Joyce, who's actually a medical doctor, was appalled. On "Washington Watch" Thursday, he couldn't hide his shock that Becerra would so openly ignore the nation's laws. "He flat out refused to acknowledge that partial-birth abortion is prohibited under federal law," Joyce shook his head. "I'm a doctor. I know what partial-birth abortion is. It's literally prohibited by name in statute, 'partial-birth abortions are prohibited.' It confirms what we feared all along, that under Joe Biden's leadership that the government officials are going to refuse to follow the law of the land."

Secretary Becerra is an attorney who has a long history of working in the government, Joyce pointed out. Surely, he's aware of that statute. And yet, if it's anything like Becerra's time as California's top law enforcer, Americans know exactly what they're getting: a lawless radical who will do anything to advance the killing of innocent unborn children.

"I'll tell you what I see," Joyce said. "I see the Democrats continuing to reverse the progress that was made under President Trump's leadership, the most pro-life president that we've had... I can't imagine how anyone couldn't understand that these are basic tenets guaranteed by our Constitution. President Trump did. He advocated for the pro-life agenda. And what we're seeing, and what I am so concerned about is a President Biden is actively working to reverse the pro-life agenda that was successfully achieved by President Trump in his administration." They can't even bring themselves, Joyce reminded everyone, to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors act. Saving newborns shouldn't even be a question, he insisted.

But this is how wildly out-of-step Joe Biden's party is. It's not moderate. It's not centrist. It's not even reasonable. It's a full-blown fanatical takeover of any decent, humane policy and ideal in America. And Becerra may be new to this whole HHS scene, but abortion isn't health care. It never has been. And FRC, in a new issue brief, explains why.