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Red States Sue Over Controversial Abortion Accommodation Rules



Clear Facts

  • Seventeen Republican attorneys general have initiated a lawsuit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over new rules that compel employers to accommodate employees seeking abortions.
  • The attorneys general, spearheaded by Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Jonathan Skrmetti of Tennessee, argue that the EEOC’s interpretation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in relation to abortion, breaks several laws.
  • They are arguing that this new interpretation of the PWFA infringes the constitution, violates state sovereignty, and breaches the First Amendment. They are seeking to have the rule declared illegal and vacated.

On Thursday, the aforementioned 17 states launched a lawsuit against the EEOC, claiming that the commission is breaking a number of laws with its interpretation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The EEOC has recently included abortion within the definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” as outlined in the PWFA.

This new interpretation by the EEOC implies that employers must make suitable provisions for female employees seeking abortions. This could include allowing time off during or immediately after the procedure.

The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was passed by Congress to protect expecting mothers and promote healthy pregnancies. The EEOC’s effort to reinterpret this law into an abortion mandate is illegal,” said Skrmetti. “I am proud to lead the coalition that is fighting to protect the rule of law against this unconstitutional federal overreach.

The Republican officials maintain that this rule contravenes the conditions stipulated in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, violates state sovereignty, and infringes the First Amendment.

New protections meant for pregnancies are being taken over by unelected commissioners at the EEOC. They are trying to require employers to accommodate elective abortions — a move not authorized by the Act,” Skrmetti’s office stated. “This rule by the EEOC is an unconstitutional federal overreach that infringes on existing state laws and oversteps the agency’s authority.

The EEOC has reportedly received a multitude of comments regarding the inclusion of abortion in the guidelines – 54,000 comments were against the inclusion while 40,000 opposed this stance.

The EEOC noted that many comments expressed that abortion is seen as the destruction of human life, morally or religiously objectionable, and not a part of healthcare. Conversely, some comments conveyed deeply held beliefs, including religious ones, that abortion is a necessary part of healthcare.

The PWFA also cannot be used to require an employer-sponsored health plan to pay for or cover any particular item, procedure, or treatment, including an abortion,” the EEOC clarified. “Given these limitations, the type of accommodation that most likely will be sought under the PWFA regarding an abortion is time off to attend a medical appointment or for recovery.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Republican attorneys general are seeking to have the rule declared illegal and vacated.


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