If you search the text of the Equality Act for the term “abortion,” you won’t find it.
And while that might be by design, should the act ever become law, it would be disastrous for all Americans who care about protecting innocent unborn life.
The House of Representatives is set to vote on this dangerous piece of legislation this week. In addition to being a Trojan Horse for abortion promotion, the Equality Act promotes inequality because it would penalize Americans for their beliefs about marriage and biological sex.
The Equality Act would amend federal civil rights law by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes.
In recent years, Heritage Foundation scholars have sounded the alarm about various groups that would be harmed should the act become law, including employers and employees, medical professionals, parents and children, women, and nonprofits and volunteers.
The list doesn’t end there, and pro-life Americans should join the chorus of people rejecting this radical policy.
The Equality Act would have a devastating impact on a host of current pro-life policies and protections. It would lay the groundwork for eliminating prohibitions on taxpayer-funded abortions at the state and federal level; purge existing statutory conscience-protection provisions for pro-life individuals and entities in the context of health care; and nullify hard-fought court battles that upheld religious freedom protections for people and organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns that has spent nearly a decade in litigation over Obamacare’s onerous contraception mandate.
How would the Equality Act accomplish these things, all of which have been highlighted as priorities by the abortion lobby?
The Equality Act adds the term “sex” to Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on public accommodations to mean pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals have interpreted “related medical condition” to include abortion.
Because of the way the Equality Act is drafted, this new definition of sex discrimination—understood to include a medical condition such as abortion—would be applied to areas of law, such as federally assisted programs, public accommodations, and Obamacare’s nondiscrimination provision.
In practice, it could mean that a health care provider would be discriminating on the basis of sex if they refused to perform an abortion procedure; a hospital could be discriminating on the basis of sex if it refused to allow abortions to take place within its facility; and health insurance plans could be discriminating on the basis of sex if they do not include coverage for elective abortions.
The Equality Act specifically states that no claims for relief can be made under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which is the law that provided a pathway for groups such the Little Sisters of the Poor and businesses such as Hobby Lobby to receive relief at the Supreme Court from Obamacare’s onerous contraception mandate.
According to the RFRA, the federal government cannot substantially burden the exercise of religion without demonstrating a compelling government interest that is accomplished through the least restrictive means possible. The Equality Act is explicitly clear that the legislation nullifies RFRA’s applicability.
Equally disturbing is the Equality Act’s lack of any conscience protections for individuals with moral or religious objections. Federal law has, for more than 40 years, provided for various conscience-protection provisions for individuals and entities in the context of health care.
Those laws protect, for example, a nurse from having to participate in an abortion procedure or certain health plans from covering elective abortions. Such protections ensure that individuals and entities are not compelled to participate in practices that violate their sincere moral, ethical, or religious convictions. The Equality Act ignores that proud tradition.
The Equality Act could lead to changes in school curricula, such as texts that affirm and promote controversial sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) viewpoints. The Equality Act could also be used to override states that have prohibited SOGI curricula. Where states have conversely mandated SOGI curricula, parents and schools do not have access to “opt-out” options.
Planned Parenthood, which has long been involved in exporting sex-education curricula in schools, has in recent years begun offering hormone treatments at some of its affiliate locations. If the Equality Act were to become federal law and public school curricula become further entwined with SOGI ideology, Planned Parenthood is well-positioned to further its presence in public schools and take advantage of an additional avenue to promote both SOGI ideology as well as the organization’s hormone-treatment services.
In other words, additional SOGI curricula could become yet another marketing tool for America’s abortion giant.
The Equality Act is bad policy and incorrectly considers disagreements about fundamental moral and religious beliefs to be discrimination.
Should it become law, it would provide a basis to force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions, put an end to America’s proud tradition of protecting rights of conscience, and further the agenda of the abortion lobby at the expense of unborn children and Americans who care about protecting innocent unborn life.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal.