DC reproductive health non-discrimination law to take effect despite House opposition
DC reproductive health non-discrimination law to take effect despite House opposition

[JURIST] A new Washington, DC, law that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their reproductive decisions will take effect on Saturday despite a Thursday House vote to strike down the law. The late vote [WP report] by the divided US House of Representatives [official website] this week marks the first time in almost 25 years the House has voted on whether to upend a District law and the first time in almost 35 years that such a vote was based on ideological grounds. The fight against the District law was led by House Republicans and started by Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz before he began his presidential campaign, but ultimately ended in defeat as the bill remains on track to become law. While conservatives have argued [Huffington Post report] that the law would violate the religious liberty of religious employers who could be forced to hire applicants with beliefs that conflicted with theirs or cover contraception and abortion, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards stated that approving a measure to overturn the law [materials] would allow bosses to fire women for taking birth control and would give employers the right to discriminate against LGBT people, women and others. Earlier on Thursday President Barack Obama [official website] threatened to veto the measure to overturn the bill if passed, saying that it would have “the unacceptable effect of undermining the will of District of Columbia citizens.”

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] have remained a divisive issue throughout the country. In April Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill [JURIST report] that bans all forms of dismemberment abortion unless necessary to protect the life or health of the mother, making Kansas the first state to ban this type of procedure. Earlier that month the Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed [JURIST report] a federal court ruling that struck down a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. At the end of March Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill [JURIST report] that requires abortion providers in the state to tell women they can reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion and also bars women from buying any health care plan through the federal marketplace that includes coverage for abortions. Also in March the West Virginia Legislature overrode [JURIST report] the governor’s veto, passing a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks.