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D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Law Takes Effect

D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Law Takes Effect

May 4, 2015 — A Washington, D.C., reproductive health non-discrimination law (Act 20-593) took effect on Saturday despite attempts by House conservatives to block the measure, the Washington Post/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (Davis, Washington Post/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/2).

Background

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 was passed by the D.C. Council in December 2014. It amends the District's Human Rights Act of 1977 to include language prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive health decisions.

Congress faced a Saturday deadline to block the law before it took effect. On Thursday, the House voted 228-192 on a measure (HJR 43) to block the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/1). However, the Senate did not take up a companion measure, according to the Post/Post-Gazette (Washington Post/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/2).

In addition, the White House had issued a veto threat of the measure if it were to pass both chambers of Congress. The White House wrote that the House bill, by blocking the District law, would have "give[n] employers cover to fire employees for the personal decisions they make about birth control and their reproductive health" (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/1).

Conservatives Considering Further Action

Conservative lawmakers and antiabortion-rights group are considering potential steps to undermine the law now that it has taken effect, according to the Post/Post-Gazette.

For example, some conservative lawmakers have proposed freezing funds that would go to Washington, D.C., to enforce the measure.

However, the National Right to Life Committee has argued that such an approach could still subject groups to potential lawsuits for discriminating against individuals based on their reproductive rights views. NRLC said it would look into alternative ways to counter the law (Washington Post/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/2).