Health and Fitness

Congresswoman Duckworth: Women Should Not be Fired Because of their Reproductive Health Choices

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 1, 2015.  Yesterday, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) delivered remarks during debate of H.J. Res 43, a joint resolution disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in adopting the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014. The Washington, D.C. law makes it illegal to fire an employee based on their reproductive health choices. If H.J. Res 43 becomes law, it would overturn Washington D.C.’s locally passed non-discrimination law. Last week, Duckworth proposed an amendment to H.J. Res 43 that would have protected residents of the District of Columbia from facing retribution from their employer for using infertility treatments.

The text of Rep. Duckworth’s remarks are included below and the video is available here.

Mr. Speaker, I stand today in opposition to this resolution. I want to make it clear the consequences of the misguided resolution we are considering today. This is not about religious freedom, it’s about the freedom to make incredibly personal and significant decisions without having to consult your boss.

I recently experienced the joy of becoming a mother for the first time. This miracle was not possible without the aid of in vitro fertilization. Given the excess radiation exposure I received during treatment for my combat amputations, this was likely the only way I would ever have a child.

Every woman in this country should have the same opportunity to start a family, and no woman should ever be fired for doing so. This should be common sense. Unfortunately, the resolution before us today would remove legal protections ensuring that this is the case in DC. The law we are voting to disapprove today would prevent stories like that of Emily Herx, a language arts teacher at a Catholic school in Indiana. She was fired after school authorities discovered that she and her husband used in vitro fertilization to try to have a child. They sought IVF treatments after learning that she suffered from a medical condition that caused infertility. 

She was told that the procedure was contrary to church teachings, and as a result, her teaching contract would not be renewed. Last December, a jury sided with Ms. Herx, awarding her damages in the case.

Employees like Emily Herx should be judged at work based on their job performance, not on private decisions they make with their families and doctors.  That’s exactly what the D.C. Council intended to ensure in passing their resolution to protect women in D.C.

I urge all Members to oppose this attempt by the majority to limit the rights of the people of the District of Columbia. In this day and age, the last thing we should be doing is punishing couples who are having difficulty starting a family.


Related Article:

U.S. House Votes to Overturn D.C. Law Prohibiting Employer Discrimination Based on Reproductive Health Care Decisions