ADF slams Biden admin. for 'hijacking' Pregnant Workers Fairness Act with 'abortion mandate'

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on protecting access to affordable healthcare, Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on protecting access to affordable healthcare, Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. | White House/Adam Schultz

A religious liberty law firm is condemning proposed federal regulations that would require employers to cover their employees’ abortions, contending that the mandate could force employers to violate their deeply held religious beliefs about abortion.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Monday that it has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, outlining regulations to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Passed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, a massive omnibus bill passed at the end of last year, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers with 15 or more workers to accommodate the “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition” of a “qualified employee.”

The law, as approved by Congress, authorized the EEOC to “issue regulations” that “provide examples of reasonable accommodations addressing known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” within a year of its enactment. The legislation took effect on June 27. The EEOC has compiled the regulations, which are scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Friday. From there, the public will have 60 days to comment on them.

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The unpublished version of the proposed regulations states that “the list in the proposed regulation for the definition of ‘pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions’ includes current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential pregnancy, lactation (including breastfeeding and pumping), use of birth control, menstruation, infertility and fertility treatments, endometriosis, stillbirth, or having or choosing not to have an abortion, among other conditions.”

According to the section of the regulations containing definitions, “‘Related medical conditions’ are medical conditions which relate to, are affected by, or arise out of pregnancy or childbirth, as applied to the specific employee or applicant in question, including, but not limited to, termination of pregnancy, including via miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.”

The proposed regulations, specifically their provisions related to abortion, did not sit well with Julie Marie Blake, senior counsel at the religious freedom legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. “Congress sought to help pregnant workers, not force employers to facilitate abortions,” she said in a statement.

“The Biden administration is attacking a bipartisan law that doesn’t even mention abortion to forcibly require every employer in America to provide ‘reasonable accommodations’ for their workers’ elective abortions,” Blake added. “The administration’s unlawful proposal violates state laws protecting the unborn and employers’ pro-life and religious beliefs. The administration doesn’t have the legal authority to smuggle an abortion mandate into a transformational pro-life, pro-woman law.”

Characterizing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as a “step forward for workers, families, and the economy” that “promotes the economic security and health of pregnant and postpartum workers by providing them with access to support on the job to keep working,” EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows praised her agency’s “bipartisan proposed regulation” for furthering “the agency’s leadership role in fulfilling the promise of the PWFA’s protection.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which contains the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, spans over 1,500 pages and contains multiple pieces of legislation. The U.S. Senate approved it in a 68-29 vote, with all Democrats and 18 Republicans voting in favor of the measure and 29 Republicans voting against it. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill passed in a 225-201 vote, with all but one Democrat supporting it and all but nine Republicans voting in opposition.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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