Thanks to Consistent Life for alerting us to this petition. It asks the Secretary of HHS to make pregnancy a “qualifying life event” allowing people to obtain insurance coverage outside of the three-month open enrollment period. Childbirth is already considered a qualifying life event — pregnancy should be too. Making sure pregnant women have access to affordable medical care is good for both mother and child.
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2014
Washington, D.C.—On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service, a case that will help determine what accommodations employers are legally obligated to provide to their pregnant employees.
Peggy Young is a UPS employee who sought light duty after her doctor advised her not to lift more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. Although it grants accommodations for other medical needs, UPS refused to allow Young to return to work until she was no longer pregnant.
Women’s rights and labor rights organizations filed amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs on behalf of Peggy Young. In addition, 23 anti-abortion groups signed on to a brief filed by professors from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Some media accounts have framed this as a case of “strange bedfellows”—but not everyone finds it strange.
All Our Lives and Feminists for Nonviolent Choices are two of the organizations that joined the pro-lifers’ amicus brief. Both groups work to address the social and economic factors that put unjust pressure on women to have abortions. Both see pregnancy discrimination in employment as an example of social structures that fail to respect human life.
“Our society claims to value children and motherhood so highly, and yet we don’t value them enough to put them before the maximization of profit,” said Jennifer Roth of All Our Lives. “Without reasonable accommodations, a pregnant worker might have to choose between protecting her health and her baby’s on the one hand, and supporting her family on the other. If their lives really matter, they’re worth the cost of a few extra water breaks or a light duty assignment.”
Dr. Mary Dahl Maher, president of Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, stated, “For a truly pro-woman, pro-life decision, the Supreme Court must rule that the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act mean employers are to meet the needs of pregnant women the same as they would meet the needs of any other worker who’s similarly physically restricted. Employer policies that are merely ‘pregnancy-neutral’ are, in fact, prejudiced against pregnancy and therefore against women.”
According to Healthy and Free Tennessee, today is the last day to call Governor Bill Haslam’s office to ask him to veto SB 1391 , the bill that would allow criminal prosecution of women whose use of illegal drugs during pregnancy is believed to have harmed their babies. We wrote before about how this law, which is meant to protect life before and after birth, will instead make matters worse for women who struggle with substance abuse and their children. Please contact the governor’s office at (615) 741-2001 and let him know that as pro-life advocates, we believe SB 1391 is the wrong approach to protecting life.
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate, and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in the House, have re-introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the new Congress. PWFA would require companies to provide pregnant employees with the same types of accommodations that are required for disabled workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Casey’s office:
Currently, pregnant working women around the country are being denied simple adjustments – permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty tasks – that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The legislation will close legal loopholes and ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will accomplish this by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and preventing employers from forcing women out on leave when another reasonable accommodation would allow them to continue working. The bill also bars employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
In recent and startling examples, Amy Crosby, a hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida, was forced into unpaid leave from her job when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy; Heather Wiseman, a retail worker in Salina, Kansas, was fired because she needed to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent bladder infections; and Victoria Serednyj, an activity director at a nursing home in Valparaiso, Indiana, was terminated because she required help with some physically strenuous aspects of her job to prevent having another miscarriage. For the well-being of pregnant workers, and for the sake of the economic stability of American families, our laws must be updated and clarified.
The National Women’s Law Center has more information in their PWFA factsheet.
Preventing pregnant mothers from having to choose between the jobs they need to provide for their families on one hand, and their own health and the health of their unborn children on the other, is pro-life. If you agree and you are in the U.S., please contact your Senators and Representatives to ask them to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1975 in the House and S. 942 in the Senate).
Here are some talking points you can use in your email and phone call:
- Women make up about half of the U.S. workforce. Two-thirds of women who had their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancies. Workers are not machines to be shaped to suit jobs — we are people who deserve to have our needs accommodated.
- The PWFA relies on a reasonable accommodation framework already familiar to employers accustomed to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Most of the required accomodations are small and inexpensive for the employer — such as allowing employees to use a stool instead of standing or to have a water bottle with them as they work — but they can make a huge difference for the employee and her child.
- If your Representative or Senator identifies as pro-life, remind them that they would be helping to protect the lives and health of unborn children as well as their mothers.
Please let us know how your call goes, or if you get a response to your email!
Three years ago, I attended a conference at Princeton that was intended to bring pro-life and pro-choice advocates together to find common ground. Its success was, shall we say, limited. But one moment of vehement agreement came when pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike expressed frustration with politicians who talk about their opposition to abortion and respect for life while at the same time cutting funding for social welfare programs.
You see, pregnancy assistance centers can’t meet the needs of the women and children they serve on their own. One of the services many centers provide is helping mothers connect with programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) so they and their children can get enough to eat. Centers like Birthright in Salina, Kansas:
“If this shutdown continues, girls won’t get the vouchers they need for baby formula,” said Linda Campbell, director of Birthright. “We will have hungry babies in Salina. A lot of our clients are very low-income. If they don’t get their WIC vouchers, who knows what will happen.
“I can’t see letting our babies go hungry and starve to death.”
The shutdown has left a portion of the federal workforce furloughed and services suspended, including funding for the WIC program that helps families up to 180 percent of the poverty line.
Campbell said Birthright, a crisis pregnancy service, helps women in need, giving emergency formula and other help. She said many of her clients are on WIC.
The government shutdown isn’t just a political game — it’s hurting real women and children.
It’s not just WIC, either. Domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers that receive federal funds authorized under the Violence Against Women Act and other programs face critical losses of funding. And then there are the cancelled cancer trials, the inability of the CDC to respond quickly to a widespread salmonella outbreak, the debilitating effects of loss of income on the households of federal employees, and so many more life-diminishing effects.
Democrats for Life is challenging pro-life groups to call for an end to the shutdown. We join them in that challenge.
US supporters: Please call and ask your Representative to end the shutdown with no strings attached. You can find your House members using Contacting the Congress. Please call and make the pro-life case against the shutdown.
From the Indianapolis Star comes a story of repulsive but sadly unsurprising behavior aimed at a 14-year-old girl who is due to give birth in early July after becoming pregnant as the result of rape:
A former self-proclaimed “social bug” — she was a cheerleader and athlete — the young victim has become reclusive since learning she was pregnant.
“I can’t walk out the door without someone calling me a whore or slut,” the girl said. “I used to have a lot of friends, or people I thought were my friends, but as soon as this happened I just isolated myself.”
The repeated vandalism incidents at the family’s home — including the words “whore” and “slut” scrawled on the garage doors — were reported to police. But Green said no charges were filed because there were no witnesses to the acts.
Her daughter also has been the target of mean-spirited rumors and speculation that her pregnancy is the result of promiscuous behavior.
The girl and her mother discussed abortion, but “‘I just looked at my mom,’ the girl recalled, ‘and told her I wanted to keep the baby.'”
It’s hard for me to fathom the bravery this girl has shown in choosing to carry her pregnancy to term. And it’s not hard to understand why so many other people in her situation wouldn’t.
Much has been made of the fact that she’s being shamed even though she was raped, and I want to say one thing loud and clear: Even if she had not been raped, it would still be wrong to treat her this way. A woman or girl’s value does not depend on whether or not she has had sex. Everyone is entitled to be treated with respect and decency whether or not they have had sex. Even if they’re young. Even if they’re not married. Even if they have sex with half the people in town. People who have had sex or been raped are not chewed-up gum or ruined presents. They are living human beings, and if you say you respect life, respect them.
If you want to help:
- A Facebook group, “Stop Slut-Shaming!!” has been started to support the Elwood girl and others who have been raped. Her mother, who was named in the Indianapolis Star article, is a member of the group.
- The girl (I hate to just keep calling her that, but neither a name nor a pseudonym was used in the article) may not be protected if her rapist were to choose to seek visitation rights or custody of her child. Indiana law only provides for the termination of a rapists’ parental rights if the rape victim is both a minor and the adoptive child or step-child of the rapist. An attempt was made last year to amend the Indiana Code to terminate convicted rapists’ parental rights, but in the end the Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee declined to recommend any change to existing law. Indiana residents, please contact your representatives and ask them to guarantee this protection for rape victims and their children.
Doctors in El Salvador have petitioned the Supreme Court to allow them to perform an abortion that they argue is necessary to save their patient’s life. The penal code of El Salvador bans abortion under all circumstances, with no exception to save the life of the mother. (Such an exception was previously part of the code, but was removed in 1998.)
The patient in question, a 22-year-old woman named Beatriz, has lupus and kidney disease. Her doctors argue that these conditions are worsened by her pregnancy and that her life is in danger. Recent reports say that Beatriz has now entered early stage renal failure.
Obviously, if care is available that will preserve both her life and her child’s, it should be pursued. But that isn’t always possible. All Our Lives has always held that a woman has a right to the medical care she needs to preserve her life, even if that care will result in the death of the child she carries. Neither she nor her doctors should have to worry about facing jail as a result.
I do want to say that I’m troubled by the way the case has been framed in many media outlets. They’ve emphasized that Beatriz’s baby is anencephalic and has a low chance of survival outside the womb. The implication is that the child’s severe disability makes this a more clear-cut case. That the child is anencephalic makes it far less likely that both could be saved, so it’s relevant in that sense. But Beatriz is entitled to life-saving care regardless of the health status of her child. And while the child’s death may be unavoidable, it’s still a death, and no less so for having been likely to happen soon anyway.
If you want to send a message to the El Salvador Supreme Court, they have a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Ask them to remember Beatriz’s constitutional right to life, and to allow her to receive whatever care she might need to preserve it. Letting her die would not be pro-life.
The Colorado House is currently considering Senate Bill 13-227, “Protect Rape Victim From Contact With Father.” The new law would allow a women who bear children conceived as the result of sexual assault to petition to terminate the parental rights of the rapist and prevent any contact with him. This would put an end to the situation in which a convicted rapist can file for custody or visitation rights to the child conceived as the result of his crime.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is currently on its second reading in the Colorado House. The legislative session is over in just a few days, so this would be a good time for Colorado residents to contact their House members.
All Our Lives will not have a presence of its own at the 2013 March for Life, but we are co-sponsoring the “For Peace & ALL Life” meetup/march group. It will be a great opportunity to meet other consistent life/whole life proponents.
Co-sponsored by Life Matters Journal, Secular Pro-Life, Consistent Life, Students for a Fair Society and continuing to seek other partners in the meetup/marching event!The March for Life is often portrayed and publicized as an event to protest against the (legal) killing of the preborn human among us. But what if it meant something more? What if the rallying cry in our ranks was one that stood for peace and all life? What if we stood not only for the preborn, but for the criminal, the prisoners of war, innocent civilians everywhere, the aged and the disabled, the depressed and the bullied, people of every race, gender, faith, sexuality, size, level of dependency, location, nationality?
If you are a supporter of the Consistent Ethic of Life, or just want to see our world engaged in a conversation that does not exclude any human life from consideration, please join us for a meetup and march with us at the March for Life. We represent the fullness of the pro-life mission!
The plan is merely to have a space and a time to share in the community of our little movement that encompasses the anti-abortion cause, but to be strengthened in the knowledge that we are not alone. Network with others in the CL cause, learn about opportunities available, and help to spread the message for peace and all life!
A February 2012 report from the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center details the barriers faced by women who need emergency contraception from the Indian Health Service. One in three Native American women has been a victim of rape or attempted rape, and yet women are often denied access to the care they need to prevent pregnancy.
The only pharmacist on most reservations is within the local Indian Health Service. Women who need Plan B report that IHS pharmacies often do not stock Plan B, refuse to provide it without a prescription, and sometimes shame women who ask for it.
Please ask IHS director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux to issue a directive to all service providers that emergency contraception be made available on demand — without a prescription and without having to see a doctor — to any woman age 17 or over who asks for it.