Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Becerra Joins the Fray Over Reproductive Rights

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is racking up frequent-flier miles as he hopscotches the country to highlight health issues the White House hopes will become pivotal for voters this year — none more so than reproductive rights. 

No woman today should fear [not having] access to the care that she needs. President Biden has made that clear,” Becerra said last Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It was a timely visit. The day before, the state’s Supreme Court greenlit an abortion rights ballot measure that Democrats hope will drive turnout in November, while also upholding the six-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last year. The ban takes effect May 1.

Becerra called the law “medical apartheid” in remarks following a field hearing House Democrats held in Fort Lauderdale on reproductive health care. The Democrats sought to highlight the GOP’s role in abortion bans that most Americans oppose.  

He drew a line connecting the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade to recent state efforts to restrict fertility treatment and access to contraception.

“At the end of the day, Roe was about all of us and our care,” he said. “It was not simply about abortion.”

It wasn’t the first time this year that the secretary has arrived somewhere at an opportune moment. He traveled to Alabama in February in the wake of that state’s Supreme Court ruling declaring that embryos created through in vitro fertilization are children. He held a roundtable with IVF patients and framed the court’s decision as an assault on reproductive freedom. 

The week before he visited Florida, Becerra was in South Carolina, one of 14 states with severe abortion restrictions and among those with the highest maternal mortality rates.

Two days later, Becerra appeared in Michigan, one of the most competitive states in the upcoming presidential election, where he boasted about the Biden administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices and joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for another roundtable on reproductive rights.

Becerra, a former California attorney general and House member, is a fluent Spanish speaker whose travels include a “National Latino Health Tour” — a key demographic for Biden’s reelection hopes. Becerra’s remarks often cover other Biden health priorities, including lowering drug prices, increasing mental health access, boosting funding for cancer research, and improving health insurance coverage and health equity.

“From Colorado, I head over to New Mexico,” Becerra said as he left the Florida event. “We’re going to go everywhere we need to go.”


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