MEMO

It seems like common sense that a woman shouldn’t be fired because she’s had an abortion, uses birth control, or in vitro fertilization to start a family, but some extreme members of Congress don’t see it that way. Rather than focus on keeping American families healthy and safe, extreme politicians continue to take up a wrong and misplaced agenda — which is why House Republicans, led by Rep. Diane Black (TN), are queuing up to block a commonsense bill that would protect women in the District of Columbia from discrimination based on their personal reproductive health care decisions. This is one of nearly 30 pieces of legislation introduced this Congress aimed at restricting access to women’s health care, making clear that this is part of a broader, extreme agenda to restrict access to reproductive health care for women across the country.

Statement from President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards:

Congress should be focused on moving our country forward, rather than zeroing in on a wildly unpopular agenda that sends women back decades into the past, restricts access to health care, and now taking this extreme step of undoing a law that would protect employees who work in D.C. from workplace discrimination based on the employees’ personal health care decisions. All women and men should have the ability to make their own health care decisions — without politicians or their bosses getting in the way.”

This upcoming vote comes as Congress anticipates taking up another misguided ban on abortion after 20 weeks and takes place just two days after a Huffington Post/YouGov poll pointed out that Americans increasingly view the Republican Party as extreme:

“They now say by an 8-point margin that Republicans are further from the mainstream. Half of Americans now say the GOP is too extreme, up 7 points since November…. Forty-eight percent of independents now say the GOP is too extreme, up 9 points from last year. The percentage of Republicans calling their own party too extreme also rose by 6 points.”

Background:

The Council of the District of Columbia recently passed the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA), which would protect women from discrimination based on their personal reproductive health care decisions. H.J.Res.43, which is expected to come up for a vote this week in the House of Representatives, was introduced by Rep Diane Black (R-TN-6) and would disapprove the action of the D.C. Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014. Should H.J.Res. 43 become law, it would in effect overturn the DC bill providing protection for employees from being fired for their private reproductive health care decisions. For example, the bill would prohibit an employer from firing an employee for using in vitro fertilization or birth control.

Extreme congressional Republicans are taking a page out of Indiana and Arkansas’s unpopular playbook of allowing bosses to discriminate based on their personal beliefs.

Efforts to prevent this commonsense anti-discrimination measure from becoming law are particularly significant given bills moving in state legislatures around the country that would allow businesses to discriminate against their employees or deny services based on their religious beliefs. Recently laws in Indiana and Arkansas that allow businesses to discriminate based on religion captured the nation’s attention and launched an unprecedented backlash from the public and corporate America.

This bill and state laws that allow for this type of discrimination represent a broader agenda by anti-women’s health and anti-LGBT leaders in the House to roll back access to care and services. 

Last week, Planned Parenthood joined dozens of reproductive rights and LGBTQ groups in a statement against congressional efforts to block RHNDA and another DC nondiscrimination bill — the Human Rights Amendment Act — that is designed to ensure that LGBT students in the District are not subject to discrimination by schools and universities (full text of the letter is here).