Biden administration accused of ‘hijacking’ pro-life law to force employers to facilitate abortions 

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

 

The Biden administration’s new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) guidance announced last week prompted outrage from pro-life advocates over its inclusion of employee abortion accommodations. Pro-family groups and conservative lawmakers accused the administration of “manipulating” the text in what was meant to be a pro-family law to advance a pro-abortion agenda.

The original PWFA, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in December 2022, requires companies with 15 or more employers to “make reasonable accommodations” for workers for “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” The measure requires “reasonable” accommodations for pregnant employees, including time off for prenatal or related healthcare appointments, additional breaks, and time off to recover from childbirth or miscarriage.

The new guidance announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was granted rulemaking authority over the PWFA, adds abortion to “related medical conditions” requiring employer accommodation, which critics say directly contradicts the original intent of the legislation.

A group of 82 House Democrats, led by Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), sent a letter to the EEOC in October 2023 urging the commission’s “clear interpretation of the term ‘Pregnancy, Childbirth, or Related Medical Condition’ as applying to the termination of pregnancy, including abortions, along with many other conditions related to lactation, fertility, and miscarriage.”

The Democrat-led EEOC finalized the rules based on this interpretation on April 15. The agency wrote in a filing with the Federal Register that abortion was added to the accommodation requirements based on the commission’s “longstanding interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” which includes “disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, and recovery therefrom.” 

EEOC Chairwoman Charlotte A. Burrows said in a press release announcing the final guidance that it “gives pregnant workers clear access to reasonable accommodations that will allow them to keep doing their jobs safely and effectively, free from discrimination and retaliation.”

‘SHOCKING AND ILLEGAL’

Critics took exception to what they said was a guileful maneuver by the Biden administration to push its anti-life agenda.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who co-sponsored the original PWFA, excoriated the new guidance as one that “defies common sense,” as reported by The Hill.  

“The Biden administration must enforce the law as passed by Congress, not how they wish it were passed,” Cassidy said. “The decision to disregard the legislative process to promote a political agenda is shocking and illegal.”  

North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who chairs the Education and Workforce Committee, said in a statement that EEOC’s abortion provision “is wrong. Period.”

“Abortion is not a medical condition related to pregnancy; it is the opposite,” Foxx said. “Leave it to the Biden administration to think terminating a pregnancy and ending the life of an unborn child addresses the needs of pregnant workers.”

Democrats applauded the regulation.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said that the final rule “correctly takes a comprehensive view of pregnancy and related medical conditions—ensuring the law will provide protections to more women who need them,” as reported by The Hill.

Democratic New Jersey Rep. Colin Allred tweeted, “I’m proud to have joined my colleagues in urging @USEEOC to recognize that abortion is a covered medical condition under the #PregnantWorkersFairnessAct. Women shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their job- and now they don’t have to.”

GUIDANCE WILL ‘FORCE’ ALL EMPLOYERS TO FACILITATE WORKERS’ ABORTIONS

A coalition of Catholic bishops accused the Biden administration of “manipulating” the original text of the PWFA for the purpose of forcing employers to provide accommodations for workers to abort their unborn children in violation of religious freedom protections. 

Responding to the new rule last week, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Bishop Kevin Rhoades released a statement in which he argued that “no employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child.”

Rhoades, who chairs the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee (USCCBC) for Religious Liberty, noted that the original PWFA was intended as a “pro-life law” created to ensure the health and well-being of pregnant women as well as the health and well-being of their unborn children. 

“It is indefensible for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to twist the law in a way that violates the consciences of pro-life employers by making them facilitate abortions,” the prelate argued.

In a written submission during the EEOC’s public comment period on the proposed rule, USCCBC bishops, along with the Catholic University of America, argued that the PWFA “does not require the provision of any benefit for purposes of facilitating an abortion.”

“Abortion is neither pregnancy nor childbirth,” they argued. “And it is not ‘related’ to pregnancy or childbirth as those terms are used in the PWFA because it intentionally ends pregnancy and prevents childbirth.”

The EEOC acknowledged in announcing the finalized rule that half of the 100,000 public comments it received concerning the proposed rule were made in objection to the abortion provision.

Julie Marie Blake, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a press release that the Biden administration lacked “the legal authority to smuggle an abortion mandate into a transformational pro-life, pro-woman law.”

“Congress sought to help pregnant workers, not force employers to facilitate abortions,” Blake said, accusing the Biden administration of “hijacking a bipartisan law that doesn’t even mention abortion.”

“The administration’s unlawful proposal violates state laws protecting the unborn and employers’ pro-life and religious beliefs,” she added.

The new guidance will take effect on June 27, 2024.

DONATE NOW