State AGs Threaten Legal Action Against Biden Admin Push for Taxpayer-Funded Abortion

HHS Sec Becerra already in hot water for border surge

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Getty Images)
May 24, 2021

More than 20 Republican state attorneys general are threatening legal action over the Biden administration's expansion of taxpayer funding for abortion.

The letter, authored by Ohio attorney general Dave Yost, rips into a rule change to the Title X family funding program proposed by President Biden's Department of Health and Human Services that would grant abortion providers access to millions in taxpayer funding. The letter said the proposed changes would place recipients of the funding in "jeopardy of violating federal law."

"Title X reflects a compromise. It funds services that large numbers of Americans support while withholding that funding from services that large numbers oppose," the attorneys general state in the letter. "The Proposed Rule tramples that compromise, by intertwining family-planning services with the divisive issue of publicly funded abortions."

The Republicans also criticize the rule's focus on "health equity," which they say could run afoul of anti-discrimination law, because "health programs that receive funding from the Department may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability."

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment.

The Biden proposal, issued on April 15, walks back changes instituted under the Trump administration that required recipients of the program's funding to maintain a physical separation between abortion services and family planning services. "By focusing on advancing equity in the Title X program, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone," the proposal says.

The letter comes as Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra faces bipartisan criticism on a number of fronts, including a deteriorating situation at the southern border. White House officials are frustrated with Becerra's ineffective attempts to deal with a record number of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border, according to Politico. A group of congressional Republicans called for increased communication from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security over security concerns surrounding child trafficking at the border.

Becerra also took flak from Republican lawmakers and pro-life groups after he falsely claimed there is no federal law prohibiting partial birth abortion. "There is no law that deals specifically with the term 'partial birth abortion,'" he said at a congressional hearing on May 17. The statement ignored the existence of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, a law Becerra voted against when he was in the House of Representatives.

"Becerra can hardly plead ignorance on this topic. As a freshman congressman, he voted against the ban. This shameless lie is standard for the most radical pro-abortion administration in history," said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Becerra's time as head of the department could see the most consequential Supreme Court ruling on abortion in decades. The Court's decision to take up a Missouri law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy puts decades of abortion law in the crosshairs of the justices.

The department said that the period for comment on the proposed rule change has closed and that the agency is reviewing comments on the rule.