In an almost straight party-line vote of 50-49, the U.S. Senate today confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, the former Attorney General of the State of California. Becerra’s nomination had stalled in the Senate Finance Committee after a 14-14 tie there, and the full Senate voted earlier this month to remove the nomination from that committee and advance it to the floor of the Senate for today’s vote.

General Becerra, an abortion supporter, prosecuted undercover journalist David Daleiden for his expose’ on Planned Parenthood’s alleged illegal sales of fetal tissue obtained from abortions.

Becerra’s nomination has been contentious from the start. HHS is the federal agency most responsible for dealing with abortion, LGBT issues and medical conscience surrounding both. There has been little doubt about the direction HHS will take under Becerra’s leadership.

As Focus on the Family President Jim Daly warned several months ago:

“Never mind that Mr. Becerra, an ideological lawyer with a lengthy record of hostilities towards the pro-life movement, has no medical training nor professional health credentials. 

“As a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Biden’s pick has been a strong advocate for taxpayer-funded abortions, supported sex-selective abortions, and voted in favor of partial-birth abortion and against legislation criminalizing hurting a preborn baby while in the act of committing a crime.

“As California’s attorney general, Mr. Becerra has specifically targeted investigative journalist David Daleiden, charging him with 15 felonies for his undercover work exposing the criminality of California’s abortion providers. As it was, he was continuing Vice-President-elect’s Kamala Harris’s prosecutorial efforts.”

Becerra’s pro-abortion ideology also led him to violate the free speech rights of pro-life organizations in California.

“Additionally, Xavier Becerra championed an unconstitutional California law that forced pro-life pregnancy resource centers to post information about where women could obtain abortions,” Daly wrote. “It was the equivalent of mandating that McDonalds advertise for Chick-fil-A, only with profound life-and-death moral considerations at stake. Thankfully, the Supreme Court struck the law down.”

HHS became the focal point of a dispute over religious conscience exemptions dealing with abortion during the Obama administration when the agency attempted to force religious organizations, including a group of nuns – the Little Sisters of the Poor – to provide employee insurance coverage for possible abortion-causing drugs. That case went up to the Supreme Court twice, and is still ongoing as attempts by the Trump-era HHS to expand the scope of the HHS religious exemption have been mired in the courts.

Becerra’s confirmation will likely guarantee that religious conscience will continue to be at risk as HHS now turns decidedly leftward.