May 14, 2021

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Denies Existence of Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra
In a hearing with the House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Wednesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra denied the existence of any law prohibiting partial-birth abortions.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tx.), and Rep. John Joyce, MD (R-Pa.) each questioned Becerra on whether he believes partial-birth abortions are illegal.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript of Wednesday's hearing:

Rep. Bilirakis: Do you agree that partial-birth abortion is illegal, sir?

Sec. Becerra: Congressman, thank you for the question and, here, as I said in response to some of those questions during my confirmation hearing, we will continue to make sure we follow the law. Again, 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.

Sec. Becerra: Which law are we talking about, sir?

Rep. Bilirakis: The law concerning partial-birth abortion.

Sec. Becerra: Well, again, as I said, there is no law that deals specifically with the term partial-birth abortion…

Becerra should know better since he personally voted against the 2003 Partial-Birth Ban Abortion Act. The law passed and was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007.

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act describes partial-birth abortions as follows:

"…an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child’s body until either the entire baby’s head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby’s trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb, for the purpose of performing an overt act (usually the puncturing of the back of the child’s skull and removing the baby’s brains) that the person knows will kill the partially delivered infant, performs this act, and then completes delivery of the dead infant."

Becerra's answer is worrying, as it suggests that the HHS will not acknowledge or enforce this basic pro-life protection.

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