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Grosso introduces bill to protect abortion providers from discrimination

For Immediate Release:
November 7, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces bill to protect abortion providers from discrimination

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) today introduced legislation that would prohibit discrimination against health care professionals who provide or support abortion care.

“Doctors and nurses are vital patient advocates,” Grosso said. “They should not fear employer discrimination for speaking up in the interest of patients who have decided to have an abortion.”

The Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017 would amend the Human Rights of Act of 1977 to make it unlawful to discriminate against health care professionals for providing or being willing to participate in abortion and protect their ability to speak publicly about their support for abortion. It also prevents hospitals from denying staff privileges just because the health care professional is an abortion provider.

Health care professionals across the country, including in the District of Columbia, report hostility and outright discrimination from their employers due to their support for abortion access or participation in abortion care. For example, Diane Horvath-Cosper, a physician who provided abortions at a private secular nonprofit hospital in D.C., was threatened with termination for speaking with the media about the importance of abortion access.

“D.C.’s health care industry employs over 45,000 people. While only a few of those would be likely to need the protection of this bill, we pride ourselves as a jurisdiction that staunchly defends the right to an abortion, and we should ensure that no nurse or doctor fears that they will lose their jobs or careers because of participation in abortion services or advocacy,” Grosso said.

“Health care providers should be able to pursue work as abortion providers, without fear of discrimination,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president & CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in support of the legislation. “The Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Amendment Act is a common-sense solution that voters support and health care providers need. Amid relentless efforts by the Trump Administration and Congress to attack a woman’s right to abortion, it is more important than ever to protect those providing this crucial care.”

Grosso previously introduced and the Council passed into law the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act to protect individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of their, or a dependent’s, reproductive health decision making.

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Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017

Abortion Provider Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: November 7, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Jack Evans, Charles Allen, Robert C. White, Jr., Anita Bonds

FACT SHEET | BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to prohibit discrimination against health care professionals by a health care provider, based on the professional’s participation in, willingness to participate in, or support for abortion or sterilization procedures, or public statements related to abortion or sterilization procedures.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Despite the protection provided by Roe versus Wade, elected officials in state houses across the country and up on Capitol Hill are trying to make it effectively impossible to access abortion services.

This includes a climate of demonization of the medical professionals who provide these services.

A doctor, nurse, or other health practitioner should not have to fear for their job based on their support for the right to choose or their willingness to participate in abortion services.

In fact, discrimination based on an employee’s participation in abortion – or willingness to do so – has been illegal under federal law since 1976.

But there are gaps in the federal law, which has led a number of states to legislate additional protections.

The District of Columbia does not done so, but this legislation would fix that.

It is a rather simple bill, adding protections under our Human Rights Act for health professionals who speak publicly about abortion, or who have a second job providing abortion services.

At a time when speaking out about the importance of access to abortion is critical, we had an incident here in D.C. last year in which a hospital tried to silence a doctor who was an outspoken defender of reproductive rights.

This sort of retaliation, or the firing of healthcare professionals for treating a woman seeking an abortion as has happened elsewhere, is inappropriate and discriminatory.

With over 45,000 people employed in the healthcare industry in the District of Columbia, we need to protect these individuals from employment discrimination like this.

While only a few of those would be likely to need the protection of this bill, we pride ourselves as a jurisdiction that staunchly defends the right to an abortion, and we should ensure that no nurse or doctor fears that they will lose their jobs or careers because of participation in abortion services or advocacy.

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