Democrats in the U.S. Senate are moving forward with the deceptively-named Equality Act, a bill that would jeopardize protections for women, unborn babies and millions of religious Americans.
The bill passed the U.S. House in February, and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on it Wednesday.
On the surface, the goal of the Equality Act (House Resolution 5) is to protect people from discrimination. It would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to redefine sex discrimination to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
But leading pro-life and conservative groups warned that the legislation would create a “right to demand an abortion.” As a result, medical workers could be forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs, and taxpayers could be forced to fund their deaths.
On Wednesday, Republican senators emphasized these dangers to the committee, The Center Square reports.
“For those of us that believe a baby is not just a medical condition, for the people that believe children of any age, or size or degree of development are worthy of life, we’re not bigots,” Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford told the committee. “We’re people who live by our genuine faith and see a child as a child.”
He said the bill specifically eliminates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law that received strong bipartisan support including from current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Bill Clinton.
Without this protection in place, Lankford said the freedom of people of all faiths in America would be jeopardized.
“I believe that we can respect each other, we can have real dialogue over these issues that are complicated and difficult, and we can find a way to be able to pass something that honors every American but doesn’t discriminate against people of faith,” he said.
U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, and Cindy Hyde-Smith, of Mississippi, and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, of Missouri, also warned that the bill would harm women’s rights, according to the report.
Hartzler said the title of the bill deceives the public about its true intentions.
“The Equality Act is the epitome of this misrepresentation,” she said. “Should this bill become law, the well being of our children, the role of parents, the privacy and safety of vulnerable women, the competitive edge of female athletes, the livelihoods of charities and businesses and the integrity of our health-care system will all be jeopardized.”
Hyde-Smith said the bill will cause discrimination, not end it, by “undermining hard-fought protections for women” and allowing men to “have open access to women-only” abuse shelters.
The so-called Equality Act (House Resolution 5) is one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities for his first 100 days in office. But it is amassing wide-spread opposition from pro-life, religious and conservative groups. Among other threats, the bill could force doctors and nurses to abort unborn babies – or lose their jobs.
Earlier this month, when a reporter specifically asked Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, about protecting the rights of pro-life medical workers, she refused to give a direct answer.
A 2019 poll commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found that 83 percent of Americans believe healthcare professionals should not be forced to perform procedures against their moral beliefs. When asked specifically about abortion, 20 percent said healthcare workers should be legally required to perform abortions even if they have moral objections.
Recently, a coalition of more than 60 pro-life leaders sent a letter urging senators to oppose the bill and stand strong for religious freedom and unborn babies’ right to life.
“If passed, this legislation would be a severe bludgeon to efforts to protect the unborn by establishing abortion rights under the auspices of addressing pregnancy-related conditions…” they wrote. “The language in both the House and Senate versions of the bill lack critical abortion neutral language. Without such language, the bill will open a pandora’s box of abortion-related policy concerns, from taxpayer funding for abortions to abortion coverage mandates in health plans. We call on senators to oppose this radical bill.”
National Right to Life, the Family Research Council, the Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life Action, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others are urging lawmakers to reject the bill.