Babies onesies with messages written on them like 'PWFA Mommy needs her job' hang on a clothesline in front of the Capitol building

Anti-Abortion Republicans Once Again Prove Just How Little They Care About ‘Life’

Abortion advocates have long fought back against the right’s attempts to brand themselves “pro-life.” If they were actually pro-life, they would care about more than just forcing people to give birth; they would care about the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of people post-birth, and especially of pregnant people.

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But they don’t. We already knew this but it’s possibly never been clearer than with the “pro-life” reaction to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which aims to provide pregnant people with basic and necessary workplace accommodations, and which Republicans just blocked for ludicrous reasons.

Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina spoke from the Senate floor last week on behalf of himself and two other Republicans (James Lankford and Steve Daines), and it’s hard to believe any of them even bothered to read through the short text of the bill they were opposing. Tillis said they could not support a bill that required employers to “provide accommodations such as leave to obtain abortions on demand under the guise of pregnancy-related condition.”

To be clear, this bill does not do that.

“The federal government should not be promoting abortion, let alone mandating that pro-life employers and employers in states that protect life facilitate abortion on demand,” Tillis said.

Again, that’s not what his bill does. Like, at all.

Here’s what the bill does do: It aims to “eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.”

It’s possible these Republicans think that “related medical condition” is code for “abortion.” Theoretically, I suppose it could be read that way, although the bill’s own sponsors deny that that’s even a possibility, since the bill does not override Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination, including on religious grounds. (Which is the traditional justification for abortion discrimination.)

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The reality of the bill is that it’s specifically designed to make sure pregnant workers get access to things like water and necessary bathroom breaks. (Looking at you, Jeff Bezos.) It could help outdoor workers transfer their duties to indoor work in the face of things like extreme heat. It could guarantee workers have basic accommodations like a stool to sit on. It makes sure pregnant workers are safe and comfortable and don’t have to choose between their pregnancy and their job, as is too often the case now.

As Sarah Brafman, the national policy director for the advocacy group A Better Balance, put it when recently speaking to The 19th, “It would close a gap in our laws by guaranteeing that pregnant and postpartum workers can get reasonable workplace accommodations, for pregnancy, childbirth and lactation so that they can stay healthy and working.”

For Tillis and his colleagues to oppose this bill and refuse to support and respect pregnant workers because of an obsession with abortion—a thing this bill does not even relate to!—is so grossly telling in regard to their actual values, which very clearly do not include women or pregnant people.

The bill already passed the House with huge bipartisan support (315–101 in its final vote). These three Republicans blocked a call for unanimous consent (which expedites its passage) but according to HuffPost, “lawmakers are pushing to get another opportunity for a vote before the end of the month, though a date has yet to be set.”

In the meantime, congratulations to these men for getting the attention they clearly wanted for their obstinate ignorance.

(image: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for A Better Balance)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.