Friday, April 16, 2021

Pro-Life implications of the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 7

Yesterday, April 15, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) by a vote of 217-210. The bill was amended in Committee on March 24, 2021. The amended version contains pro-life concerns:

The bill would add to the Fair Labor Standards Act a definition of sex that can be argued to include abortion. The Committee on Education and Labor amended the bill to add to the Fair Labor Standards Act an expanded definition of sex that includes “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” The term “related medical condition” has been identified by the courts and by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a coded reference to abortion.

The bill prohibits individuals from being paid at different rates based on sex. The Fair Labor Standards Act includes the Equal Pay Act, which states that “no employer…shall discriminate…between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees… at a rate less than… employees of the opposite sex.” The term “pay” may be understood to include many forms of compensation, including benefits. It has been defined in this manner by the EEOC and by the Department of Labor. The legislation may be used to argue that employers who fail to cover elective abortion in employee health care plans are discriminating against their employees and may be subject to the enhanced penalties and damages laid out in Sec. 8(b) of H.R. 7.

For example, an employee could argue that abortion is just one of many “health care options” available to a pregnant woman. The employee could note that male employees have access to the “full range of reproductive health care” within employee health care plans, while women are denied coverage for abortion. The employee could argue, under this act, that employees are given different compensation based solely on sex.

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