How can Washington bureaucrats take a law that could prevent abortions and turn it into an instrument to encourage them? When the pro-abortion Biden administration is writing the regulations, that’s how. At least, that’s a possible outcome regarding the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
That law, passed as an amendment to last year’s omnibus spending bill, gave pregnant women common-sense rights in the workplace. Similar to the process outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the PWFA requires most employers to make reasonable accommodations for their workers’ pregnancies, so long as those accommodations do not create an undue burden on the business.
The law will give pregnant workers the right to, for instance, take more frequent bathroom breaks or carry water with them at their job site. The measure seems like a common-sense, pro-family measure, one that both sides of the partisan divide can support as a way to make life a little easier for pregnant workers and, in so doing, perhaps discourage some from considering abortion as an option. That is until the Biden administration got involved.
When the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released proposed rules implementing the PWFA, it included abortion as one of the “related medical conditions” covered by the act. If the proposal gets finalized and abortion becomes subject to the PWFA, most employers will have to give their workers leave to obtain an abortion or abortion-related services.
Indeed, while there has been a great deal of attention paid to the Biden administration’s abortion tourism policy for the military — and Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s fight against it — it appears Washington bureaucrats are now poised to push something similar on the entire American workforce, effectively by executive fiat.
Worse yet, this “abortion vacation” mandate could also apply to religious organizations and entities. During consideration of the PWFA in Congress last December, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., offered a one-paragraph amendment that would have exempted religious entities from any PWFA provision violating their faith. Despite the common-sense nature of this provision, 53 senators voted the amendment down. Now, the EEOC’s proposed rule has officially put religious liberty in jeopardy for countless churches and religious groups.
This new proposed regulation comes despite the fact that the PWFA’s sponsors have stated the bill had nothing to do with abortion. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., said on the Senate floor last December that under the measure, “the EEOC could not — could not — issue any regulation that requires abortion leave, nor does the act permit the EEOC to require employers to provide abortions in violation of state law.”
Even though the lead Democratic co-sponsor of the bill explicitly stated that it provided no such authority to the EEOC to require abortion leave, the commission put out a proposal that would do precisely that. For all their talk of protecting “our democracy,” the left never misses an opportunity to use the powers of government to make unilateral policy decisions when they decide it is in our best interest. As it has on so many other occasions, the Biden administration went out of its way to curry favor with the radical left — in this case, Planned Parenthood and its like-minded cronies, who want to insert abortion into every issue and conversation.
This is, of course, all part of a pattern for the Biden administration, which has spared no effort to ingratiate itself with the radical abortion lobby over the past two years. In addition to using taxpayer dollars for service members’ abortion travel, the Biden administration has also been fighting to put abortion pills in retail pharmacies to allow dangerous, at-home, do-it-yourself procedures. So it should come as no surprise that the executive branch now wants to force more radical abortion policies on American workers through the bureaucratic “interpretation” of a law meant to help pregnant mothers and babies in the workplace.
That such a proposed policy would come about as a result of the federal bureaucracy rather than be debated, deliberated, and passed into law by the American people’s representatives in Congress should come as no small surprise either. Despite all of its genuflection to the likes of Planned Parenthood and others, the radically pro-abortion Biden administration has yet to reconcile itself to the reality that very few Americans are anywhere near as radical as they are on the subject. For example, a 2021 AP-NORC poll found that 65 percent percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the second trimester, and 80 percent said it should be illegal in the third trimester. A more recent 2023 Marist poll showed similar results, with nearly two-thirds of Americans saying that “abortion should only be allowed, at most, within the first three months during pregnancy.”
One can only imagine what those polling numbers would look like if the same sample of people were asked whether a law intended to help pregnant mothers in the workplace should be contorted by a group of politically driven bureaucrats to force employers to provide abortion vacations.
Supporting pregnant workers does not have to become entangled with abortion or undermine the religious liberty of church-based organizations. The Biden administration should rethink its ideological approach to this issue, and the EEOC should withdraw this misguided portion of its proposed rules implementing the PWFA.