DC bill forces pro-life organizations to cover elective abortion

ADF letter explains bill violates federal law, corrupts organizations’ mission
Thursday, October 23, 2014

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom and six other pro-life organizations sent the Council of the District of Columbia a letter Thursday arguing that a proposed bill violates federal law by forcing the groups to provide elective abortion coverage through their insurance plans and employ those who live and act contrary to the organizations’ pro-life mission. The letter explains that the bill clearly violates federal law in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act prohibits employers from “discriminating” against employees for any “reproductive health” decision, including abortion, and is intended to force employers to provide health insurance for elective abortions regardless of the employers’ beliefs or convictions. The signers of the letter include ADF, March for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Charlotte Lozier Institute, Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life Committee, and Family Research Council.

“Pro-life organizations must be free to operate according to the beliefs they espouse,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “The government has no business forcing pro-life organizations to hire those who oppose their mission or to force any employer to pay for abortions. As the video of the committee hearing demonstrates, this is a cynical bill targeted at religious and other pro-life groups. It is illegal and doomed to defeat. The District should spare its taxpayers the expense of defending it.”

During that hearing, D.C. Councilman David Grosso, the chief sponsor of the bill, introduced its purpose by saying, “I believe that religions don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage, which is too bad, but they don’t have to, whereas nonprofits and other private entities do have to give this, what is considered now a healthcare right for all Americans.”

The letter explains that “the Supreme Court has held that the federal mandate on for-profit religious employers, requiring them to provide coverage of items to which they have a religious objection, violates RFRA…. Particularly in light of the Hobby Lobby decision, there is no prospect that this law would pass muster under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

“Just as a nonprofit organization supporting abortion might believe it necessary to ensure that its employees were not participating in the March for Life or other pro-life activism, or an organization advocating for veganism might believe its message cannot be effectively communicated by someone who eats meat, a pro-life organization must be free to choose to expend its resources to employ those whose words and actions uphold and do not detract from the organization’s mission,” the letter states.
  • Video: Public hearing, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, including testimony by Casey Mattox (2014-06-23)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

# # # | Ref. 46216