In the ceaseless crusade to eliminate any conceivable barrier to abortion and reproductive rights and make life difficult for religious employers, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) is inventing “problems” that need “solutions.”
The latest is AB 569 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzales Fletcher (D-San Diego) which imagines a widespread threat to reproductive rights despite the fact that they cite only one such case in California – and that was back in 2012.
Such cases are hard to find because existing law is very clear that an employer cannot discriminate based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Such prohibitions are covered under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959 and have been enforced by the courts for decades. (A host of other state and federal laws also protect employees.)
NARAL’s inability to find any such cases has not stopped the rush to approve AB 569.
The organization also sponsored the 2015 Reproductive FACT Act which required all pregnancy centers to tell clients they could get a low-cost or free abortion. That case – as is certain the happened with AB 569 if it passes – opened up long and expensive legal proceedings which are still under way.
Clearly, AB 569 is designed to complicate laws and increase the potential for costly litigation. (Which may be why labor attorney’s support the bill.) It also specifically targets religious employers.
“Many -- perhaps all – reproductive health decisions are closely … protected,” says the bill’s analysis from the Senate Judiciary Committee. “An employer who fired workers for getting an abortion, having a vasectomy done, or having premarital sex, for instance, would presumably be found to have engaged in sex, gender or marital status discrimination.”
But “FEHA…excludes certain non-profit, religious institutions from its mandate. The proponents of this bill assert that a few institutions have utilized these exemptions to fire employees who became pregnant out of wedlock and who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization.” (Emphasis added and, again, there were no cases to cite.)
AB 569 will virtually guarantee a plethora of court cases because it creates different remedies and fails to proscribe consequences as does the better developed and proven FEHA regulations. In short, it deliberately confuses the laws to open the door for more lawsuits.
AB 569 also seeks to prohibit an employee from agreeing to any “code of conduct” that would deny the employee’s reproductive rights.
Again, NARAL and its supporters cite only one case. In that 2015 situation, the code was actually part of negotiations with a union which ultimately approved the language. No one was forced to give up any rights.
With a host of serious issues facing the state – from housing shortages to water policy to shifting immigration regulations – the fact the California legislature is spending its time on a non-existent problem illustrates the reason so many voters are questioning the effectiveness of lawmakers.
There are real issues facing California and no need for AB 569 and its imaginary problem.