Building on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2022, a new rule put forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ensures that abortion is included on the list of protected medical conditions that may require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers, under the law. Typically, these reasonable accommodations include things such as modified job duties or additional rest breaks or time off to handle certain medical issues, with no penalty to the worker or their wages. In a lengthy footnote regarding the abortion decision, the EEOC explains:
The PDA [Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978] prohibits an employer from discriminating against a female employee because she has exercised her right to have an abortion … stating that the plaintiff "cannot be refused employment on the basis of her potential pregnancy" … The PDA's prohibition on discrimination against women based on their ability to become pregnant thus necessarily includes a prohibition on discrimination related to a woman's use of contraceptives.
Of course, there are some Americans — include many in positions of power! — who get off at the promise of being able to punish people, particularly women and other marginalized groups, for the crime of asserting their basic rights to autonomy. And naturally, those same people are quite upset about this ruling. If they can't punish someone for exercising their legal right to have an abortion, why then that's simply not fair to them!
As journalist Grace Haley explains:
Republicans are upset that new and expanded protections for pregnant workers would include abortion as one of the medical conditions that employers have to make accommodations for (like rest breaks, for example). Conservative lawmakers claim that the language violates the intent of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—but really they don't like the idea of protecting the rights of women who would dare to end a pregnancy.
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, the top Senate HELP Committee Republican, and the Alliance Defending Freedom are among the top critics so far, and we anticipate this fight to grow much like the other anti-abortion blockades we've seen over the past few months.
On June 24, 2022, the Company announced a special employee benefit including "reimbursement for travel costs if an employee must travel more than 100 miles for an in-network provider."2 However, Title VII, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, prohibits discrimination with respect to com- pensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of childbirth. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(k); 2000e-2(a). The Company's decision to provide "coverage for an elective abortion and reimbursement for travel costs"—which is properly classified both as compensation and/or as a privilege of employment—to a pregnant woman who chooses to abort her child, while denying any equivalent compensation or benefit to a pregnant woman who chooses life, facially violates the statute. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a)(1); 2000e(k).
Give me a fucking break.
In response to the new EEOC rule, more anti-abortion tantrums ensued:
"The Biden administration is hijacking a bipartisan law that doesn't even mention abortion to forcibly require every employer in America to provide 'reasonable accommodations' for their workers' elective abortions," [Julie Marie] Blake, [Senior Counsel at the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom] said. "The administration's unlawful proposal violates state laws protecting the unborn and employers' pro-life and religious beliefs. The administration doesn't have the legal authority to smuggle an abortion mandate into a transformational pro-life, pro-woman law. Alliance Defending Freedom stands ready to continue defending unborn lives and to oppose this egregious federal overreach."
Wow, yeah, it sure must suck when the government forces you to let workers have bodily autonomy. </sarcasm>
Abortion, Every Day (8.9.23) [Grace Haley / Abortion, Every Day]
Abortion fight threatens to spoil bipartisan pregnant worker protections [Nick Niedzwiadek]
EEOC Official Quietly Targets Companies Over Abortion Travel [J. Edward Moreno / Bloomberg Law]