By Denise Harle
“You are effectively being compelled to undermine your own reason for being.”
It is one thing to disagree with others’ religious beliefs — and another to bend laws and violate the Constitution to ensure they can’t live out their faith in their daily life and work.
Yet Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some Albany legislators seem determined to go the latter, lawless, route when it comes to the abortion debate.
New York has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. Now, even those who object to extinguishing unborn life — even organizations whose mission is advocating for the dignity of life — might be compelled by law to hire employees who endorse and promote abortion.
That’s the essence of the so-called Boss Bill, Senate Bill 660, signed into law by the governor last week.
The Boss Bill tells employers they have to be willing to employ people whose beliefs and behavior as to “reproductive-health decisions” run counter to their own. That’s bad enough if you run a family-owned restaurant. It is intolerable if you run a church, a Catholic school or a pregnancy care center — and now are required by your own state government to hire people who have no respect for your faith and who oppose your pro-life convictions.
But the bill targets more than religious beliefs on the value of life in the womb, suppressing any principle an employer may hold regarding “reproductive-health decision-making.” Because the state doesn’t bother to define that key term, employers are left to guess what it means in terms of sexual conduct, procreation, pregnancy, contraception, surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization or sexually transmitted disease.
Can any employer have a policy or position on these issues?
Under SB 660, an employer can’t even require workers to sign a code of moral conduct. Adding insult to injury, employers are forced to include these reproductive-health rights in their employee handbooks — effectively compelling them to communicate the government’s ideological message.
If you are a church forced to hire an administrator who doesn’t agree with your biblical and natural-law beliefs on sexuality, a Christian school ordered to hire teachers who refuse to model the school’s essential teachings, or a pregnancy-care center directed to hire people who advocate abortion, you are effectively being compelled to undermine your own reason for being — to compromise your own integrity.
And that’s precisely what Cuomo and his allies in the Legislature want. New York could have provided an exemption for religious organizations, but elected officials intentionally chose not to, even though they knew the law shouldn’t be applied to such organizations under US Supreme Court precedent or under the state’s own human-rights law. That’s because the law isn’t about fighting real employment discrimination — it’s about religious targeting.
The bill’s main sponsor in the state Senate, Jennifer Metzger, says the law is needed to prevent employers’ “personal and political beliefs” (read “religious beliefs”) from encroaching on employees’ decisions about reproductive-health services.
Trouble is, there isn’t one documented instance of such discrimination in the annals of New York or any other state for that matter. Metzger and her colleagues, asked to produce one, couldn’t.
The only reason the Boss Bill exists is because pro-abortion officials — and Planned Parenthood, which has invested much to get them elected — want abortion rammed down the throat of people of faith and pro-life advocates. Dissent will not be tolerated — the US Constitution be hanged.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a pre-enforcement federal civil-rights action on behalf of pro-life pregnancy care centers and a church regulated by SB 660. The law violates their First Amendment rights to expressive association, free speech, religious autonomy and the free exercise of religion.
The Boss Bill was sold as a fix to a problem. But it’s a problem that doesn’t exist — and Cuomo, the Legislature and abortion-rights activists surely know that. They simply want to eliminate the existence, or at least the effectiveness, of pro-life organizations and to punish those who dare hold certain moral beliefs.
But as the US Supreme Court made clear last year, a pro-abortion-rights state government “cannot co-opt [pro-life speakers] to deliver its message for it.” Religious groups and charities have every right to be the bosses of their own moral codes — even when the government bully hates those morals.
Denise Harle is legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom Center for Life.
Source: “New York’s Latest Bid To Bully The Religious” NYPost.com