December 8, 2014 — Although "both sides of the great, gaping abortion divide" have voiced support for a pregnancy discrimination case currently before the Supreme Court, such backing has not translated into bipartisan support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942, HR 1975), New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.
Collins notes that during oral arguments in the Supreme Court case, in which former UPS employee Peggy Young is seeking reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, abortion-rights supporters and opponents "united behind working women who wanted to have children." However, Collins writes that this "high-minded rapprochement ... has not made its way into the halls of Congress" for PWFA, a bill that "would require employers to make 'reasonable accommodations'" similar to those sought by Young for pregnant workers.
For example, she notes that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), sponsor of the House's PWFA bill, said that while "he's hoping some of the anti-abortion groups who have signed onto Peggy Young’s case will start pressing their congressional allies to come around on a bill that would solve the Peggy Young problem ... so far, there doesn’t seem to be much progress." Further, Susan B. Anthony List, which is backing Young, "hasn't taken a position on the matter" and is instead focusing on legislation (S 1670, HR 1797) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, writes Collins.
Currently, all of the 33 Senate and 142 House co-sponsors of the bill are Democrats, Collins writes. According to Collins, Democrats have not made any "superhuman efforts to win over their Republican colleagues" on the bill, while Republicans, "who have been complaining mightily about being branded anti-women during the election season, have been making quiet murmurs of agreement" but still have not officially supported the measure.
"And here we are, in a country where more than two-thirds of mothers work, most of them full time," she writes, adding, "We have interesting debates about whether young mothers should opt out of the workplace, ignoring that most of them have no option whatsoever on the opting question" (Collins, New York Times, 12/5).