It’s open season for attacking religious liberty and First Amendment rights in our nation’s capital. On Wednesday of this week, the City Council of the District of Columbia unanimously approved of the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) in its second reading. The act forces all employers in the District to approve of abortion and contraception in the workplace even if they contradict an employer’s religious convictions or are contrary to an organization’s mission.
It is clear from the public hearing that Council intends to wield RHNDA in forcing employers to include abortion and contraception as part of their employee health care plans just as California has done recently. Many employers will face a dilemma: they will either have to pay for abortion coverage out of the company budget or be forced not to do business in our nation’s capital.
The implications of RHNDA will hit pro-life organizations, religious schools, and religious charities particularly hard as their mission is wholly incompatible with complying with the law’s oppressive language. RHNDA treats abortion and “reproductive health care decision[s]” as a protected status, one that apparently trumps the protected status of “religion.” As such, employers are prohibited from making hiring and termination decisions based on their employee’s abortion or contraceptive practices.
This is not only problematic for organizations whose stated mission is pro-life but also decidedly discriminatory against people of faith. Any employer can choose to hire or fire individuals based on their degree of complicity with the company’s goals. No one would expect a T-Mobile employee who also sells for AT&T to be retained by their employer — that would be a clear conflict of interest. Somehow, religious and pro-life employers don’t have the same rights when it comes to how they build their organizations.