National Partnership for Women & Families

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House approves measure to repeal D.C. reproductive health protections

The House last Thursday voted to approve a fiscal year 2017 financial services appropriations bill (HR 5485) that included an amendment to repeal a Washington, D.C., law (Act 20-593) that protects workers from employer retaliation over reproductive health choices, Rewire reports.

The House voted 223-192 to add to the amendment to the underlying appropriations bill earlier that day (Grimaldi, Rewire, 7/8).

Previous repeal effort unsuccessful

The D.C. Council passed the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 in December 2014. It amends the District's Human Rights Act of 1977to include language prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive health decisions.

In April 2015, the House voted 228-192 on a measure (HJR 43) to block the law. However, the Senate did not take up a companion measure. The White House had issued a veto threat of the measure if it were to pass both chambers of Congress.

The D.C. law took effect in May 2015 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4/15).

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Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, criticized the passage of the amendment. She said, "A woman should never fear being fired for her decision about whether, when, and with whom to grow her family. That decision should be a woman's alone and not decided for her by an employer or by Congress."

Separately, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) pointed to the successful effort last year to prevent the law from being repealed and said she "will be waging another vigorous fight this year."

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) cited liberal lawmakers' opposition to the repeal measure. She said, "Under the guise of 'religious liberty,' this amendment is an unprecedented intrusion into D.C. residents' personal health choices, and cannot be a part of any final (a)ppropriations law" (Rewire, 7/8).