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White House Defends D.C. Law Pushing Employers to Insure Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Planned Parenthood Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama defended the organization and told delegates that he would block efforts to cut off funding. Credit: Getty Images

With a veto threat Thursday, the White House is defending a Washington, D.C. law that requires employers pay for health insurance covering their employees abortions. The House was set to vote on the measure Thursday evening.

The District of Columbia's Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 added abortion to reproductive health treatment that employers must cover as a matter of non-discrimination protections included under the basis of sex. Before being amended last year, the law covered only pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions, and breastfeeding.

In April, House Republicans introduced a joint resolution opposing the law, and saying it violates the religious freedom of some D.C. employers.

“By taking away this newly-added protection, H.J. Res. 43 would undermine the reproductive freedom and private health care decisions of the citizens of the District of Columbia,” said a statement of administration policy by the Office of Management and Budget. “This legislation would give employers cover to fire employees for the personal decisions they make about birth control and their reproductive health.”

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Planned Parenthood Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama defended the organization and told delegates that he would block efforts to cut off funding. Credit: Getty Images (Getty Images)

The OMB statement adds, “If the President were presented with H.J. Res. 43, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this resolution.”

The law would also ban anti-abortion organizations in Washington, D.C. from considering a job seeker’s views on abortion as a condition of employment, according to the bill’s main sponsor Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.). The legislation has 46 co-sponsors.

The House resolution states its disagreement with the Washington, D.C. law and urges the House Appropriation Committee to defund it. The bulk of the District of Columbia’s spending is tied to federal decisions.

“The District of Columbia’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act will do just the opposite of what its name implies,” Black said in a statement earlier this month when the resolution was introduced. “This is an affront to the conscience rights of every American who believes, as I do, in the cause of protecting the unborn.”

The White House further contends that it would undermine the will of the local D.C. government.

“While the Home Rule Act of 1973 created a procedure for the Congress to overturn laws passed by the District of Columbia, the Congress has not exercised this authority in over two decades and should refrain from doing so in this circumstance, as well,” the OMB statement said.

One last thing…
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