After four years of savage opposition to the Trump administration — opposition that too often morphed into the vilification of conservative Americans — Democrats are now talking “Can’t We All Get Along” unity.
And yet, President-elect Joe Biden’s naming of Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services is less of an olive branch than a sharp stick in the eye.
This is true even for Latinos. Yes, we’re glad to see a Hispanic offered a top post, but we would prefer someone who shares our values and concerns. Never mind someone who has the basic health care qualifications for the top HHS job.
Just what is so wrong with Mr. Becerra? Well, his radical position on abortion, for starters.
Unlike most Americans who support common sense limits on abortion and try to balance the mother’s freedom of choice with her child’s right to live, Mr. Becerra is aggressively pro-abortion. He’s been that way since the start of his political career. From voting against requiring parental notification when a minor girl is trafficked across state lines to procure an abortion to voting in favor of both gruesome late-term partial birth abortion and discriminatory sex-selective abortions, he has come through 100 percent for the abortion lobby. His rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood? A-plus.
Hispanics have special reason to find his views unnerving. Latinos are culturally disposed to welcome the unborn into their families. They favor closer-knit, extended-family relationships. When an unexpected baby is on the way, the entire Latino family pitches in to welcome him or her into their midst.
Mr. Becerra’s support for abortion right up to the moment of birth and his support for aborting baby girls simply because they are girls is shocking to the hospitable Latino culture. The fact that he would side with older men trafficking pregnant girls across state lines and against her parents, her natural protectors, is also shocking.
His abject devotion to Planned Parenthood is also a problem. Latinos know only too well that this predatory corporation, which collects over half a billion dollars a year in federal and state monies, locates most of its facilities in minority neighborhoods, and disproportionately eliminates black and brown children.
Then there’s Xavier Becerra’s egregious record as California attorney general. He persecuted an order of nuns — the Little Sisters of the Poor — women who devote their lives, in poverty, to the care of our needy elderly who have no one else to take them in.
Their sin in Mr. Becerra’s eyes is that they cannot, because of their Catholic faith, include abortifacient contraceptives in their employee health plans. He threatened the sisters with crippling fines. Then, when the Trump administration granted the Little Sisters an exemption based on their right to freely practice their faith, Mr. Becerra sued — and pursued them all the way to the Supreme Court. Happily, the court found for the nuns and their (our) constitutional rights.
In another shameful episode, Mr. Becerra sought to force pro-life pregnancy resource centers to advertise, and refer for, abortions. I work for centers like these, reading their fetal ultrasounds for free. They are staffed mostly by volunteers, funded by church organizations, and motivated by faith. These facilities exist to offer women and couples a real choice, an alternative to abortion, when it comes to a crisis pregnancy.
For those who want to welcome their children into the world, these centers provide material help of all kinds, as well as encouragement and emotional support. Again, Mr. Becerra chased California’s pregnancy resource centers all the way to the Supreme Court to force them to do something that was antithetical to their entire existence. And, again, the nation’s high court roundly rebuffed Mr. Becerra. It ruled that forcing pro-life centers to advertise for the Planned Parenthood abortion facility down the street is a violation of Americans’ right to free speech.
As HHS secretary, Mr. Becerra would not only be implementing policies but shaping them in this fraught and delicate arena. Can anyone doubt that blunderbuss Becerra would gut the protections put in place by the Trump administration for health care workers’ conscience rights? Can anyone doubt that he would be loath to cross the abortion lobby no matter how dangerous or corrupt Big Abortion’s behavior may be?
Someone so zealous on the subject of abortion — someone so willing to trample the free speech, religious liberty, and conscience rights of those who disagree with him on this issue — simply cannot be trusted to protect the rights of ordinary Americans, Latinos and non-Latinos alike.
• Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D. is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association.