Antiabortion groups vow to keep firing women for using birth control, even though it's illegal

Several D.C. organizations are rejecting a law that bans discrimination over employees' reproductive choices

Published May 7, 2015 3:31PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>JPC-PROD</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(JPC-PROD via Shutterstock)

A number of antiabortion groups have taken a defiant stand against a recent Washington, D.C. law that bans organizations from discriminating against employees on the basis of their reproductive health choices, and have reserved the right to fire women for using birth control or having abortions.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, members of half a dozen "pro-life" organizations declared their opposition to the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, which went into effect in the capital over the weekend. The law prohibits employment discrimination in "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" on the basis of an employee's (or dependent's) "reproductive health decision making, including a decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service." Advocates of the measure have touted it as a response to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, and as a way to extend additional protections to employees.

But that's not how the House of Representatives or the groups challenging the law see it. Last week, the House voted to overturn RHNDA, while the Senate put off a vote and effectively allowed the measure to come into force. Now we know for sure who plans to ignore it.

The statement, signed by representatives of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Americans United for Life, March for Life, Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List, criticizes RHNDA as a violation of religious freedom, despite the fact that some of the groups are not religious organizations. Via the Heritage Foundation:

RHNDA is aimed squarely at the freedom of our organizations to draw our workforces from among those who share our foundational commitment to the sanctity of human life. [...]

We are nonsectarian pro-life organizations and religious ministries that make the nation's capital our home. Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family. We will not abandon the purpose of our organizations in order to comply with this illegal and unjust law. We will vigorously resist any effort under RHNDA to violate our constitutionally protected fundamental rights.

Contrary to the organizations' assertions that the law interferes with hiring practices or dictates the type of insurance plans employers must provide, RHNDA merely prohibits firing an employee if she (or her family members) uses the insurance for which she pays in order to cover contraception, or if she's, say, had an abortion. It makes it illegal to retaliate against people for their private reproductive health decisions by taking away their jobs. The right to fire for personal decisions -- that's what these organizations are fighting for.

(h/t Raw Story)

By Jenny Kutner

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