A powerhouse coalition of pro-life advocates on Monday urged the Senate to reject Xavier Becerra’s nomination to head the Health and Human Services Department, citing his absence of health care experience and his “disregard for people of faith.”
The Democrat Becerra’s “bias for anti-life, anti-religion policy is apparent, and he should be rejected to serve as a national department head,” said the letter signed by more than 40 pro-life and conservative leaders.
The letter to the Senate leadership came as an early salvo in what is shaping up to be a ferocious confirmation battle over President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s selection of Mr. Becerra, the California attorney general since 2017 and former congressman.
“Mr. Becerra has consistently used the power of his office to attack people who think differently than him and to advance the interests of the abortion lobby when he had the authority to do so,” the letter said.
The letter spearheaded by Students for Life Action cited Mr. Becerra’s hostility to religious and conscience exemptions from abortion and birth control requirements, including his ongoing legal battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor over the state’s contraception mandate.
“We the undersigned have grave concerns about how he would use the power of the nation’s healthcare systems to advance his preference for abortion and express his disregard for people of faith by forcing support, payment, and compliance with policies that he prefers,” the letter said.
Signers include Radiance Foundation co-founder Ryan Bomberger; Media Research Center President Brent Bozell; Eagle Forum Chairman Anne Schlafly Cori; pro-life investigator David Daleiden; Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; And Then There Were None founder Abby Johnson; March for Life President Jeanne Mancini; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; and Live Action President Lila Rose.
As California attorney general, Mr. Becerra sued the Trump administration more than 50 times — The New York Times called him an “anti-Trump attack dog” — and led the unprecedented criminal prosecution of Mr. Daleiden over his undercover investigation into sales of fetal tissue from abortion.
“Mr. Becerra carries a national reputation for his vehement, unwavering support for abortion including in the ninth month, his staunch convictions in opposition to conscience rights for medical professionals, and his hostile opinions regarding the freedoms of religious organizations, among other issues that are of major concern to us,” the letter said.
The Becerra pick has been praised by Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups as well as supporters of the Affordable Care Act, which Mr. Becerra has vowed to protect.
In a video released Friday, Mr. Becerra made no mention of his abortion stance, but said that “we want everyone to have access to health care, we want everyone to be able to afford it” and described the federal department as “that little angel.”
“How can we make your life better?” he asked. “That’s the role that we have at HHS — that little angel that helps you stay healthy, be well, and know that you’re going to have the health care you need.”
Mr. Biden has been criticized for selecting a nominee with no medical or public-health experience in the middle of a global pandemic, while supporters say Mr. Becerra’s 24 years in Congress will be crucial in helping him negotiate and shepherd relief legislation.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, said that pro-choice advocates “don’t care that he has no health care experience, because as a lawyer, he has used the law against everyone from nuns to pregnancy care centers to the FDA to advance a radical abortion agenda.”