The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday night to uphold religious freedoms in the District of Columbia. The House voted against the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act, because it could potentially restrict freedoms granted under the First Amendment.
The D.C. City Council adopted the Act last year and sent it to Congress in March for review, as all local D.C. laws must be congressionally approved within a 30-day period prior to taking effect. The House vote alone doesn’t block the City Council action, though, because both the House and Senate would have to pass resolutions of disapproval.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), voted no, saying the D.C. Act could force churches, non-profits, and businesses to make decisions that are inconsistent with sincerely held religious beliefs regarding the sanctity of human life. It also would require those entities to provide health insurance that would cover abortion.
“RHNDA is a clear attempt by the D.C. Council to target groups with the audacity to support rights for the unborn. Our Constitution guarantees the liberty of all Americans to practice their particular faith,” said Cramer. “No government—federal, state, or local—should have the power to violate the deeply held religious beliefs and first amendment rights of free Americans.”
But Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) blasted Republicans for their opposition.
“Under this legislation, congressional Republicans would permit District employers to fire a woman because she had an abortion after being raped, demote a man because his wife chooses to use a birth control pill, pay an employee less because his or her teenage daughter became pregnant out of wedlock, and impose a host of other penalties based on ideologies that discriminate against certain reproductive health decisions,” Cummings argued in his press release.
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), the sponsor of the resolution of disapproval in the House, disagrees with Cumming’s view. She said the law was unconstitutional and dishonest.
Black argued the only support for the law came from big-abortion lobbyists, according to The Daily Caller.
“The truth is this oppressive measure directly targets the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life and faith-based employers in our nation’s capital,” stated Black.