Should pro-life organizations be forced to hire pro-abortion employees? That’s the question the House of Representatives will answer on Friday when it votes on a resolution to condemn a measure the District of Columbia City Council approved.
The local government of the nation’s capital approved the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which prevents employers from denying employment based on “their reproductive health decision-making.” Because the language provides no exemption for religious or political groups, it could be used to force pro-life groups to hire abortion advocates.
“We can’t exist if our purpose is to advocate for a pro-life position and we’re living under a regime which is telling us you can’t structure yourself as an organization and hire people to advocate for these issues,” Travis Weber, an attorney and Director of Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, told The Daily Signal. “It’s very controlling and it brings to mind an oppressive government monitoring of groups’ purposes.”
But, the House of Representatives will vote Friday on H.J. Res. 43, a resolution of disapproval sponsored by pro-life Rep. Diane Black to prevent implementation of the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act (RHNDA). A preceding debate on the resolution is scheduled for Thursday.
A leading pro-life member of Congress says the vote is necessary to protect the religious liberties of pro-life groups.
“The upcoming House vote on the resolution to disapprove of the D.C. Council’s encroachment on religious liberty is a direct result of the persistent efforts of Republican Study Committee members,” Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) said.
He told LifeNews: “We first flagged this issue when the D.C. Council passed the law and have been resolute in our belief that Congress has the right and the responsibility to act in defense of our constitutional freedom of belief. This is not about one city, but rather about preserving the First Amendment right to religious liberty for all Americans.”
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A top pro-life advocate in Washington provides more background on what’s happened and how RHNDA abrogates the rights of pro-life groups.
“RHNDA was adopted by the D.C. City Council late last year and transmitted to Congress on March 6 for a Congressional review period of 30 legislative days. The law will be enacted at the expiration of the 30 day period unless a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted. On April 21 H.J. Res. 43 was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a party line vote of 20-16,” says Jonathan Imbody, Vice President for Government Relations for the Christian Medical Association.
He explains: “RHNDA could restrict the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life organizations in two ways: Force a religious or pro-life advocacy group to make personnel decisions inconsistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about the sanctity of human life. Mandate that religious and pro-life advocacy organizations provide insurance coverage for surgical abortion.”
The resolution, H.J. Res. 43, disapproves of the District’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which requires employers to provide health insurance covering the termination of unborn children and to hire individuals who may advocate for those practices, even if that goes against the employer’s religious beliefs.