Vetoed bill on reproductive health called 'massive overreach by NARAL'


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) — Religious
freedom advocates and pro-life leaders praised California Gov. Jerry Brown for
vetoing a bill called the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act that targeted
religious employers and their faith-based codes of conduct for employees.

Assembly Bill 569 would have
made it illegal for a California employer to discipline or fire employees for
“their reproductive health decisions, including, but not limited to, the timing
thereof, or the use of any drug, device or medical service.”

Alliance Defending Freedom said
the bill would have prohibited churches, religious colleges, religious nonprofit
organizations and pro-life pregnancy care centers “from having faith-based
codes of conduct with regard to abortion and sexual behavior.”

The government “should not and
cannot tell” employers that they cannot live out their beliefs within their own
organizations, said Elissa Graves, legal counsel for the alliance, which is a
legal group that advocates for religious freedom and sanctity of life and on marriage
and family issues.

“Gov. Brown was right to veto
this immensely unconstitutional bill, which would have been an unprecedented
overreach on the part of the state of California,” she added in a statement about
the governor’s late-night action Oct. 15.

“The First Amendment doesn’t
allow the state to order churches and other faith-based groups to violate their
most deeply held convictions,” Graves said. “They have the freedom to live
according to their faith and to require those who work for them to do the

The California Catholic
Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, called the
measure “a massive overreach by NARAL” and an attack on religious liberty. NARAL Pro-Choice America advocates for legal abortion and for expanding access to it.

After A.B. 569 was passed by the
California Legislature as its 2017 session ended Sept. 18, the Catholic
conference urged Catholics to send a message to Brown calling for him to veto

It said the bill “deliberately”
targeted religious employers “in a false effort to stop widespread ‘reproductive
discrimination’ but supporters cannot cite a single case in California where
such discrimination has actually occurred.”

“There are no substantiated
claims of discrimination in the secular workforce against women who are
pregnant or exercise ‘reproductive choices’ because such actions have been
illegal for decades under the Fair Employment and Housing Act,” the conference

It noted the bill’s supporters
could only point to one case in the state in the last decade “implicating a
religious employer” and “that matter was settled out of court.”

“In a reach unknown in any other
legal system, supporters (of A.B. 569) have expanded those who can allege
discrimination in court to include anyone in the employee’s family and holds
supervisors personally and legally responsible for enforcing the policy of
employers,” the conference said.

“With no restraint in sight,”
the conference said, the bill did not allow employers to enforce codes of
conduct, “even those negotiated with employees as part of union contracts.”

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