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Biden administration Secretary for Health and Human Services Xavier BecerraJohn_Papadopoulos /

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra refused to use the term “mother” instead of “birthing person” when challenged by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in a Senate Finance Committee hearing which addressed the proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year.

During the hearing, Lankford told Becerra he observed that the word “mothers” had been replaced with “birthing people” in the 2022 budget proposal.

“I also notice you changed a term in your budget work,” Lankford said. “You shifted in places from using the term ‘mother’ to ‘birthing people’ rather than ‘mother.’ Can you help me get a good definition of ‘birthing people?’”

Becerra neglected to provide a defense for the term, which is used by advocates of transgender ideology to promote the notion that “it’s not just cis-gender [biological] women that can get pregnant and give birth.”

“Well, I’ll check on the language there,” Becerra said, “but I think if we’re talking about those who give birth I think we’re talking about, uh, I don’t know how else to explain it to you other than …”

When Becerra failed to finish the sentence, Lankford continued: “I was a little taken aback when I just read it and saw it that the term ‘mother’ was gone in spots and it was replaced with ‘birthing people’ and I didn’t know if this was a direction that you were going, if there were shifts, if there were regulatory changes that are happening related to that or what the purpose of that is.”

“I think it’s probably,” Becerra began, “and again I’d have to go back and take a look at the language that was used in the budget, but I think it simply reflects the work that is being done.”

“I definitely get that,” Sen. Lankford answered, adding, “I would only say, the language is important, always. We don’t want to offend in our language, I get that. But would you at least admit calling a mom a ‘birthing person’ could be offensive to some moms? They don’t want to get, like, a ‘Happy Birthing Person’ card in May. Can you at least admit that that term itself could be offensive to some moms?”

Becerra laughed and said, “Senator, I’ll go back and take a look at the terminology that was used and I can get back to you, but again, if we’re trying to be precise in the language that’s used.”

“Mom’s a pretty good word,” Lankford shot back. “That’s worked for a while and I think that’s pretty precise as well.”

Earlier in the hearing, Lankford had pressed Becerra about religious freedom.

“I was surprised to see the language in the budget,” Lankford said. “It stripped out much of that language that had existed in previous budgets about freedom of conscience, freedom of religion. And it also seems that you’re eliminating the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. Is that true? In your budget, are you eliminating the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division?”

Becerra deflected, saying the HHS would “continue to do the work to protect the religious, civil, constitutional rights of all Americans under HHS’ purview,” under the “Office of Civil Rights.”

“But you’re taking away that division as a priority and putting it under something else, or where is it going?” Lankford asked.

“It continues to function,” Becerra said. “The work continues to be functioning under the Office of Civil Rights.”

Lankford promised to follow up with Becerra for further clarification on the issue.

Becerra has a poor track record on life issues. In 2017, in his capacity as attorney general of California prior to his appointment as HHS secretary, Becerra sued the federal government under the Trump administration in an effort to reimpose an Obamacare mandate requiring insurance providers to offer contraceptives.

The action resulted in a suit by the State of California against the Little Sisters of the Poor, who fought to keep the religious exemption to the mandate. In July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor in, sending the original case back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a new decision taking into consideration the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In February of this year, more than 60 pro-life advocacy groups — including Live Action, Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Priests for Life, and the Family Research Council — signed a letter addressed to the Senate asking them not to confirm Becerra as HHS secretary, saying he “is an enemy to every pro-life policy and law and has demonstrated complete disregard for the religious and moral convictions of those opposed to the brutal act of abortion.”