Pro-Life Groups Sue N.Y. Over Law Banning Religious Organizations From Firing Pro-Abortion Employees

Brittany M. Hughes | November 19, 2019

Several pro-life organizations are suing New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the state’s new law they claim will force them to hire and employee people who disagree with their religious views and stance on the sanctity of life.

According to Lifesitenews.comSenate Bill S660 “forbids employers from engaging in ‘discrimination’ or ‘retaliatory personnel action’ against employees on the basis of their ‘reproductive health decision making,’ or from requiring them to sign any ‘document which purports to deny an employee the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions.’” In short, the law effectively bans employers, including pro-life ones, from firing or taking any action against an employee for having an abortion, or from asking that they sign a commitment to personally adhere to their organization's policy of protecting pre-born life.

The bill doesn’t allow for a religious exemption to the mandate, meaning that even employers with deeply held religious beliefs on issues like abortion could be banned from firing an employee for going against their own organization’s mission. Penalties for violating the law include having to compensate the affected employee with back pay, benefits, and legal fees associated with any lawsuit they might bring.

The move doesn't come without precedent. Just a year ago, the New York City Council added "sexual and other reproductive health decisions" to its list of protected categories under the New York City Human Rights Law.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is now representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), First Bible Baptist Church in Hilton, N.Y., and the pro-life pregnancy center group CompassCare in their lawsuit against the state, alleging that the mandate violates their First Amendment rights.

“SB 660 intentionally and by design sacrifices the associational, speech, and religious freedom of employers in New York State —including religious non-profits, churches, and schools — to the government’s desire to promote abortion rights by gutting the ability of pro-life employers to hire to their pro-life missions,” ADF claims. “To fulfill their missions, Plaintiffs hire employees who agree with, personally adhere to, and effectively convey organizational beliefs regarding reproductive health decisions, including but not limited to decisions related to abortion, contraceptive use, and sexual morality.”

New York has already taken several active steps toward solidifying the state as a hostile place for the unborn, passing a law early this year allowing for elective abortions through the third trimester with virtually no restrictions.