Sen. Lankford Claims Health Secretary Is Violating Federal Law To Promote Abortions

Eric Scheiner | March 14, 2024
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At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra about abortion funding.

Lankford claimed HHS violated Title X funding law by withholding funds from Oklahoma for not giving out a 1-800 number for abortion services.

“Last year, you created a rule on Title X funding, that in my state, which my state currently has laws that protect the lives of every child born and unborn, that if my state does not put on our health, pamphlets -brochures, whatever may be a way for people to get access to an abortion. If they did not put that 1 800 phone number on there, we would lose Title X funding. You followed through on your threat and you took away Title X funding from my state, which takes away from my rural counties AIDs testing, cancer screenings, all of those things you took away from my state - because my state would literally not put a phone number in our health brochures of where people could go get an abortion.

First of all, let me start. That violates federal law because obviously Title X funding is not about abortion. That's specifically in federal law. So you've created something entirely new with that. The second thing I would say is why would you take away that funding? And is that true? Would you be willing to be able to put this? The funding is taken away. My state has lost that money for AIDSs testing and cancer screenings and our county health departments because of that,” Lankford questioned.

“So, Senator, I'm not surprised by your question. And you're not going to be surprised by my answer, and that I don't agree with the way you framed this, because if it were as you framed it, we would be in court right now losing,” Becerra replied.

 “You are in court right now. There is an appeal that's going on,” Lankford noted.

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Becerra then continued, “All the law says is individuals who are going in for services should know what services they’re entitled to. We're not saying anything about abortion, we're just simply saying a person should be informed of the services that could be available to them under Title X. And if a state wants to not abide by the law, they understand the consequences. They won't get their money.”

“So the specific law that you're stating there is, if we don't put a 1-800 number, where to go get an abortion…”

“That’s not the case,” Becerra interjected.

“That is the case. Actually, we verified this. We've walked through the process. That is the one issue when we ask, ‘if we added this one phone number to brochures, does that fulfill everything?’ And we and we were told, yes, that would fulfill everything. It is just a phone number where to go get an abortion to get it because you can't get it in the state. So what is happened then is AIDS testing goes away. In my state, cancer screening goes away. I mean, that's a pretty big bully tactic to be able to say, I'm going to remove all these things if you don't do what we're asking you to do, which is not in the statute.”

“Senator, we follow the law. We expect those who want federal dollars to follow the law,” Becerra smugly replied.

“Well, we're also following the law. Clearly we're being withheld from that,” Lankford said.

Lankford didn’t end his questioning about the Biden administration’s push for abortions there.

“I would ask you just a quick yes or no question, because there is another decision that's coming down from the Supreme Court next week as they hear about chemical abortions. There has been some rumors out there to say, and some individuals saying ,that if the Supreme Court determines something about chemical abortions, that HHS and FDA should just ignore it. So my yes or no question is, we don't know what direction the Supreme Court's going to make on that decision. But when the Supreme Court makes that decision, will HHS abide by that decision, whatever it is?”

“Senator you're asking me to speculate on something,” Becerra replied.

“I'm asking you if you're going to follow the Supreme Court and the United States Constitution. That shouldn't be a hard question.”


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