Pro-life groups file appeal against NY pro-choice employment law

Katie R. Ochoa
Christians walking in the 19th annual
Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

A church and two pro-life groups are continuing their legal battle against a New York state law that, according to them, will force them to hire people who support abortion.

CompassCare, First Bible Baptist Church in Hilton, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates filed their notice of appeal last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

At issue is a New York Labor Law that bans employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive healthcare decisions, including having an abortion.

The plaintiffs are being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that has argued and won religious liberty cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It is imperative religious employers be able to continue to hire like-minded individuals who share their core beliefs, and no government can force faith-based organizations to contradict those convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle in a statement Friday.

“We are asking the 2nd Circuit to uphold the constitutionally protected freedoms of our clients as they fulfill their critical service to the community.”

In November 2019, then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 660, which became Labor Law § 203-e and, among other things, barred employers from requiring employees to sign a document that “purports to deny an employee the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions” and also denied them access to an employee’s reproductive health history.

Shortly after the law was signed, the three groups filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, claiming that the law was “a transparent attempt to meddle in the affairs of religious and pro-life organizations” by “forcing them to employ and associate with those persons who do not share or live by the organizations’ beliefs regarding abortion, contraception, and the impropriety of sexual relations outside the context of a marriage between a man and a woman.”

In late March, U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy permanently enjoined the state from enforcing a provision of the law that required the groups to communicate the law in employee handbooks.

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