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Stop Abusing Religion to Discriminate Against DC Workers

April 30, 2015

Tonight there is a critical vote. Congress will vote on the DC Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), a bill unanimously passed by DC City Council that would protect the conscience rights of those living and working in the District. If RHNDA is overturned, employees in the District could be fired or face other retribution for their reproductive health decisions. A woman could be fired for having an abortion, a man could be paid less because his wife uses birth control or a woman could be demoted for having a child without being married.

“The vote tonight is the culmination of a disgraceful campaign by extremists who are abusing religion to push their beliefs on others,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “The Catholic bishops and their ultraconservative allies are bullying Congress into overriding the will of the DC Council and DC residents. They want to use religion to discriminate.

“This is an outrageous and contorted interpretation of religious liberty, and it is not Catholic. Our Catholic tradition respects the right of employees to work in environments that respect their dignity as human beings. Punishing or firing an employee for her healthcare choices simply because of where she works is discriminatory and plain wrong. The majority of Catholics, including the more than 600,000 here in the DC area, believe it is unjust to allow an employer to run roughshod over the conscience rights of workers. No one should be relegated to second-class status just because of what her boss believes.”

O’Brien continued, “It is up to each of us to ensure that the religious liberty guaranteed to each American is not compromised for the political gain of an influential group of extremists. Real religious liberty is, and should be, sacred to us all. It must allow for individuals to follow their own consciences and beliefs when it comes to making healthcare decisions, without interference from their employers. To see it twisted in such a way is despicable.

“I am a DC resident and a Catholic. I believe in freedom of and freedom from religion. Only that is real religious liberty. Along with other Catholics in the District, I urge the House to do the right thing and allow RHNDA to become law.”