Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday said his department planned to “double down” on efforts to provide American women with access to “the care they are entitled to” when asked about continued family planning services in the wake of the bombshell leaked Supreme Court draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
During a subcommittee hearing for the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic members asked Becerra what his department and the administration planned to do if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked Becerra for an update on the work of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force, expressing concern over the future of family planning in light of the leaked draft.
“We are going to double down on the effort to make sure that the legal rights all Americans, women to access the care that they’re entitled to continues forward. I yesterday had an opportunity to address a number of representatives of many of the insurance plans, health insurance plans in America, and made it very clear that we intend to continue to enforce the law,” said Becerra.
“We will also make it clear what the law requires of anyone who accepts federal funding through Medicare, Medicaid to provide services to all Americans without discrimination. As I said, we’re gonna double down and make sure no one goes without the care they’re entitled to.”
Shaheen’s fellow Democratic, female members of the subcommittee all touched on the Supreme Court draft during the hearing. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the subcommittee, began the hearing by warning that overturning Roe v. Wade would be “devastating” and that “women’s lives are on the line.”
“Reproductive health care is under attack at every angle, and we need to be doing everything we can to protect it,” said Murray.
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) called for the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and argued that the filibuster should be eliminated if necessary for the bill to be passed.
Becerra himself said it was “most important” that he discuss the “chilling” news of the Supreme Court draft in his opening remarks.
“Twenty-two years into the 21st century and nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade, some, most men, seek to impose their judgment over every woman in America who may seek to exercise her constitutional right to privacy and personal decision-making,” Becerra said. “That is dangerous. That is wrong. That we must repel with every just bone in our body. “
“America is not a nation prone to regression. And the Department of Human Services is not in the business of stripping Americans of access and protections to care,” he added.