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Congress Votes to Strike Down DC Law on “Reproductive Discrimination”

© Lawrence Jackson

John Burger - published on 04/30/15 - updated on 06/08/17

Archdiocese of Washington hails action against ordinances

The US House of Representatives voted against two local Washington DC laws that, critics say, would force religious institutions and other organizations to hire or retain employees who publicly act in defiance of the mission of their employer, according to the Washington Post.

The Archdiocese of Washington, which, along with other religious freedom rights organizations, had asked Congress to intervene in the dispute, called the controversial Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA) “unconscionable assaults upon the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association, as they subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government.” The archdiocese contends the measures violate the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “and result in discrimination against religious believers.”

Supporters of the laws say they assure religious liberty, but DC’s Democratic non-voting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, has said, "We will not tolerate the misusing of religion to deny women and men in the District of Columbia equal opportunity under the law.” 

Under the ordinances, employers cannot act against an employee when they know she has used medical treatments to initiate or terminate a pregnancy.

A congressional repeal of the ordinances would have to pass a vote in the Senate, and President Obama would have to sign it by early next week. Those actions are unlikely, but Congress can still block the laws by withholding funding in the 2016 budget. 

Supporters of the controversial DC laws include NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

PoliticsReligious Freedom
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