Leftist fact checkers once again are creating confusion, rather than clarity, about a Democrat politician’s pro-abortion stance.
This time it involves President Joe Biden’s nominee to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.
The attorney general of California, Becerra has a radical pro-abortion record that includes trying to force nuns with the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers to fund contraception, including types that may cause abortions, through the Obamacare HHS mandate.
During a U.S. Senate committee hearing earlier this week, Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, slammed Becerra for “suing nuns” – a reference to a lawsuit that the California Attorney General’s Office filed challenging a religious exemption to the mandate.
Fact checkers at Politifact and the Washington Post decided that Thune was wrong. The Washington Post called his statement “misleading” and Politifact described it as “half true” because the Little Sisters, who serve the poor and elderly, “voluntarily joined that case.”
This is what Thune said:
“As attorney general, you spent an inordinate amount of time and effort suing pro-life organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor, or trying to ease restrictions or expand abortion … I think the majority of the American people would not want their secretary of health and human services focused or fixated on expanding abortion when we’ve got all of these public health issues to deal with.”
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Becerra responded by insisting that he “never sued a nun — any nuns.”
However, both fact checkers acknowledged that Becerra did sue the federal government after President Donald Trump issued his religious freedom rule to protect the Little Sisters and other religious employers.
And the Little Sisters charity is a defendant in the case.
The sticking point for both fact checkers was that the nuns’ charity joined the case after Becerra filed it.
“The charitable organization was not sued or legally compelled by the California attorney general’s office to participate in the case. The group decided to join the litigation after it began, and a court granted permission,” the Washington Post argued.
Politifact described it this way: “The reality is a bit murkier than either side would like to admit. Becerra didn’t ‘sue’ the Little Sisters of the Poor, although as a representative of California, he was a plaintiff in long-running litigation against them.”
But Politifact also acknowledged and linked to a legal filing that shows both Becerra’s name and that of the Little Sisters as participants in the case – a clear indication that the California attorney general is fighting against nuns in court.
The Little Sisters have been fighting for an exemption from the contraception mandate in court for many years and twice appeared in front of the U.S. Supreme Court – first, while challenging the mandate itself and, second, while defending the Trump administration rule (the one Becerra is challenging) granting them a religious exemption from the mandate.
Ryan Colby, a spokesman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the nuns, told both fact checkers that the distinction that they are trying to make about Becerra does not really mean anything because he is fighting the nuns in court.
“Becerra sued to take away religious protections given to the Little Sisters of the Poor and others, who are doing critical work caring for the elderly during the pandemic,” Colby said.
“After the Sisters got into the case and he beat them in lower court, Becerra dragged them all the way to the Supreme Court where he lost 7-2,” he continued. “He’s literally still fighting them in court today after that loss.”
Republicans and Democrats are urging the U.S. Senate to reject Becerra because of his radical pro-abortion record. A former U.S. congressman, he also is prosecuting the undercover journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s aborted baby body parts trade and voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions. Though he is nominated to lead the health department, Becerra does not have any medical background.