Pro-Life Loss

D.C. discrimination law


Late on April 30, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block the implementation of a Washington, D.C., law called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA). To actually nullify it, the Senate would have had to take the same step and the president would have needed to sign the resolution by May 2.

That didn't happen, so RHNDA is now in effect. The law prohibits discrimination by employers "on the basis of the individual's or a dependent's reproductive health decision making" or "on the basis of an employer's personal beliefs about such services." Proponents say the measure is necessary to protect women from, for example, being fired for using birth control or in vitro fertilization.

Religious organizations counter that RHNDA could be used to force religious small-business owners or even pro-life activist groups to hire outspoken abortion supporters. "It would be intolerable for an advocacy organization such as ours," wrote the National Right to Life Committee in an open letter to members of Congress, "to be required to hire, or prohibited from firing, a person who makes a 'decision' to engage in advocacy or any other activity that is directly antithetical to our core mission to lawfully advocate for the civil rights of the unborn."

It's now for the courts to decide whether RHNDA is valid. At least one organization—Catholic University, located in Northeast D.C.—has said it believes it can win a legal battle to overturn the law.