30 Nov How Pregnant Workers Fairness Act could force Employers to support Abortions
House Resolution 1065, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), is headed for a vote in the Senate during the current “lame duck session” of Congress. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Biden, the bill would make it illegal for employers to refuse “reasonable accommodations” for “known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee.”
At first blush, that’s a good thing. These legal protections are necessary to protect pregnant women from employment discrimination or retaliation; however, the language is vague and fails to define what conditions are “related to pregnancy.” That means the bill could open the door for women to demand pro-life employers support their decision to abort their babies.
The bill intentionally omits existing Civil Rights Act (CRA) religious-organization protections for employers.
Tom McClusky, CatholicVote’s Director of Government Affairs, explained the problems with the drafting:
The problem is that we are living in a political environment where ‘pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions’ unfortunately includes contraception and abortion. Catholics and pro-lifers should demand care for women that explicitly rejects the notion that killing their babies is a form of ‘care.’
Many pro-life groups, including the USCCB, favor the legislation as currently drafted. The USCCB issued a recent statement of support for HR 1065:
[We] support efforts to make the workplace more receptive to women and their preborn children by requiring employers to provide short-term, reasonable accommodations during pregnancy, such as being able to carry a bottle of water, a stool for jobs involving long periods of standing, or lighter duty for jobs entailing heavy lifting. No woman should be forced to risk her child’s health, miscarriage, preterm birth, economic security, or losing insurance just because she requests a pregnancy-related accommodation.
The political rush to secure these protections by an outgoing lame duck Congress at the expense of pro-life employers and religious organizations is troubling.