Viewing entries tagged
reproductive health

Comment

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.

###

Comment

Comment

Grosso Calls on Supreme Court to Uphold Women's Reproductive Rights

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

Grosso Calls on Supreme Court to Uphold Women's Reproductive Rights

Washington, D.C.--Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a case that challenges the constitutionality of a Texas law that would effectively close many clinics that provide abortion services in that state. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) made the following statement in advance of the oral arguments:

"Today I stand with millions of people across the country who want to see the Supreme Court make the right decision and protect access to abortion services. Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt revolves around the question of whether Texas law H.B. 2, and myriad others around the country, places an undue burden on access to abortion services. If allowed to go forward, the Texas law would close the majority of abortion providing clinics in the state, placing significant obstacles between a person seeking to terminate a pregnancy and access to such services.
 
In D.C., we are lucky to have some of the strongest protections of a woman's right to make decisions about her own body, despite continued interference by Congress. In 2014, the D.C. Council passed my Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act to stop employers from retaliating against employees for their reproductive health decisions, which Congressional Republicans unsuccessfully sought to block. I will continue to fight the Congressional rider that prohibits the D.C. government from spending local tax dollars on abortion services, creating barriers to access for our poorest residents. And I will continue to advance legislation to safeguard reproductive rights, like my bill that ended shackling of pregnant women and girls in D.C. detention facilities.
 
On a personal level, my wife and I make regular contributions to the D.C. Abortion Fund in an effort to help mitigate the impact of the Congressional rider. Similarly, in response to state laws passed to obstruct women's access to abortion, we also contribute regularly to Fund Texas Choice, a group that funds travel for women who do not live near an abortion provider, after over a dozen closed in Texas due to the new legislation.
 
No matter the Supreme Court's decision on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, D.C. will remain a place where women's autonomy over their own reproductive choices will be protected."

###

Comment

Comment

D.C. Budget Passes with All of Grosso’s Priorities

For Immediate Release

May 27, 2015

Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun

(202) 724-8105

 

D.C. Budget Passes with All of Grosso’s Priorities

Washington, D.C. –- Today, the D.C. Council voted on the bills that comprise the D.C. fiscal year 2016 budget–-the “Budget Request Act of 2015” and the “Budget Support Act of 2015.” Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. 

“This particular budget and vote is significant as it is my first while chairing the Committee on Education. For this Council period, education and housing were designated as the Council’s two top priorities. I am pleased that a comprehensive budget to benefit District of Columbia residents was developed in the areas of education, workforce development, transportation, and health and human services, with historic investments for a strategic pathway to end homelessness,” said Grosso. 

Grosso’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Victories

Education

Under Grosso’s leadership, the Education Committee approved a $2.4 billion budget that reversed proposed cuts to the library system, supported modernization of the Martin Luther King, Jr. central library, and brought a new, objective approach to determining capital funding for D.C. Public Schools, based on equity and data, not politics. In the coming months, the Committee will hold town hall meetings in every ward to share the analytical framework for determining school modernization priorities. Grosso allocated $1.6 million for a new literacy intervention program, targeted at 3rd grade reading success. Equipping these young students with the basic building blocks of learning—reading and writing—will ensure that they are on track to succeed throughout their academic careers. Grosso transferred $760,000 to the Committee of the Whole to restore funding to the University of the District of Columbia that the Mayor had proposed to cut. Grosso also allocated almost $700,000 to DCPS to make up for funding losses at schools such as Wilson and Ballou High Schools, and $450,000 to restore funding for SAT and ACT test preparation courses for D.C. high school students. Grosso included language in the Budget Support Act that broadens the scope of the Bullying Prevention Taskforce and extends its term until August 2018. Grosso also allocated $266,000 to expand the Community Schools program, which supports students and their families by providing wrap-around services. New language in the Budget Support Act also strengthens the program and expands the pool of potential applicants to include middle schools. Meeting the needs of these students and their families in a comprehensive way is part of Grosso’s vision to put every student in the best position to learn and achieve.

The Arts

As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector.  To that end, Grosso identified and transferred $200,000 to the Committee of the Whole to fund a comprehensive, citywide cultural plan.  This plan, housed in the Office of Planning, will enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide. 

Food Security & Recreation

Grosso believes a sustainable food system encourages local food production and distribution that makes nutritious food accessible and affordable to all D.C. residents.  For this reason, he introduced the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014, which became official law on April 30, 2015.  Grosso worked closely with the Committee of the Whole to ensure that the intent of the legislation was preserved and funded to move urban agriculture efforts forward in the city. The funding allocated for the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act enables residents using their property for urban agriculture purposes to take advantage of a 90% tax abatement program.  Additionally, the legislation enables those tax exempt entities that allow farmers to grow and sell produce on their property to maintain their tax exempt status.

An additional program that has proven its value and has Grosso’s support is the Produce Plus Program, which is a farmers market incentive program designed to increase access to healthy and nutritious food options for low-income D.C. residents.  The final budget includes $350,000 for this program to ensure that all our residents can afford to eat healthy.

Health & Human Services

As a strong supporter of reproductive and sexual health and rights, Grosso has worked to support programs such as peer-led sex education in schools and in this budget allocated $300,000 to the Committee on Health and Human Services for teen pregnancy prevention programs. This funding will help fill the gap left by the end of activities of a private foundation that supported such programs locally.

Throughout the budget process, Grosso has also been a vocal proponent of stepping up to the plate to end homelessness in D.C. He is very pleased that the Council’s approved budget builds on the Mayor’s proposed increases in homelessness and human services in line with the strategic plan developed by stakeholders.

###

Comment

Comment

Anti-Choice Groups Vow to Defy New Provisions of D.C. Law That Don’t Exist

by Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check, May 8, 2015

A group of anti-choice organizations released a joint statement this week that, to many observers, seemed like a vow to commit civil disobedience and violate the District of Columbia’s new Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA).

It’s not clear, however, if these groups’ planned “resistance” would actually break the law, or whether their objections to the law have any grounding in reality.

“The statement from Alliance Defending Freedom and other groups shows that they still have not taken time to read or understand my legislation,” D.C. Councilmember David Grosso, who sponsored the reproductive health bill, told RH Reality Check via email.

The statement, signed by representatives of Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, Concerned Women for America, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, pledged to “vigorously resist” alleged violations to their First Amendment rights under the new law.

The pledge comes on the heels of action by congressional Republicans to try, unsuccessfully for now, to block the new law. A resolution of disapproval of RHNDA failed to pass both the House and the Senate before a 30-day deadline, but Congress could still try to block it using the budget appropriations process.

“It is appalling that these organizations have sought congressional interference in our local legislative process and now claim an intention to disobey the law based on their own ignorance about what the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act does and does not do,” Grosso said.

The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal website released the statement along with a report claiming that the groups are “putting themselves at risk of violating the law.”

It would in fact violate the law if the groups wanted to fire women for having an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or fire men whose wives use birth control. The RHNDA amends D.C.’s Human Rights Act to protect employees from discrimination based on their, or their dependents’, personal reproductive health care choices for which some religious conservative employers have been known to fire women.

But if this is the anti-choice groups’ intent, it’s not at all clear from their statement. Instead, the groups appear to be using common misconceptions about what the bill actually does to support their arguments that the bill violates the religious freedom of employers.

“They claim they will not obey the D.C. Human Rights Act, yet their uninformed stance actually means they will be taking actions completely within the law,” Grosso said.

The anti-choice groups’ statement claims that RHNDA is “aimed squarely” at the organizations’ freedoms to “draw our workforces from among those who share our foundational commitment to the sanctity of human life” and to “purchase and provide employee health plans that comport with our pro-life beliefs.”

“Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family,” the statement concludes. “We will not abandon the purpose of our organizations in order to comply with this illegal and unjust law. We will vigorously resist any effort under RHNDA to violate our constitutionally protected fundamental rights.”

If all these groups want to do is hire people who share their views, or decline to provide comprehensive insurance that covers contraception and abortion, it doesn’t appear that RHNDA prohibits them from doing that.

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, as much as it rankled reproductive rights supporters and many D.C. Council members, is still the law of the land. Council members and aides have repeatedly said that nothing in the bill deals with insurance, and the bill now contains language clarifying that point.

That clarifying language is temporary, which the anti-choice groups objected to. But D.C. Council members plan to make that clarification permanent, even though some have argued that it would be redundant to do so.

As for the groups’ concerns about being able to hire people who share a “commitment” to their values, the law’s supporters say that groups can hire who they want, and that the purpose of the law is to prohibit firing an employee for their health-care choices.

“This is about ensuring that workers can make their own health decisions without their bosses’ intrusion, whether that is to initiate or terminate a pregnancy, whether that is taking birth control or in-vitro fertility treatments,” Grosso said.

Religious groups might argue that an employee’s abortion or use of birth control demonstrates a lack of “commitment” to their values, but that’s where the new law draws the line.

It’s possible, for instance, for a person to strongly identify as “pro-life” and Catholic but still use birth control funded by private insurance, or to have a daughter who does. Nothing seems to prohibit a group from refusing to hire someone who says they are pro-choice.

“If Concerned Women of America and the other groups are asking individual job applicants whether they use birth control, have had an abortion in the past, or have used assistive reproductive technologies, then they will be clearly violating the law, and doing so in a really despicable manner,” Grosso said.

He added that those employers are “well within their rights to evaluate a job applicant’s ability to execute the functions of the advertised position and seek employees who agree with the organizational mission.”

Comment

1 Comment

Grosso's Bill to Protect Workers from Discrimination Goes into Effect Today

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2015
Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun  
(202) 724-8105; (202) 285-6447
 

Grosso's Bill to Protect Workers from Discrimination Goes into Effect Today 

Washington, D.C.--Today, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 (RHNDA), introduced by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), becomes law in the District of Columbia. The RHNDA, which was passed unanimously by the D.C. Council and signed by the Mayor, prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their reproductive health choices.  Grosso's bill was the target of a House vote on Thursday to disapprove--or overturn--the law, an action that has not been pursued for decades and was ultimately ineffective without subsequent passage in the Senate and approval of the President.

"This is an important day for all workers in the District of Columbia--to be free of discrimination based on their reproductive health choices," said Grosso. "My bill ensures that women and men can decide on their own health choices, in consultation with their medical professionals and without interference from their employers. I am especially gratified that D.C. residents and others across the country stood with us to defend my bill in the face of bullying and mischaracterization by members of the House. The failed effort by Chairman Chaffetz and other members of Congress to overturn my legislation reiterates, once again, the urgent necessity for D.C. to have budget and legislative autonomy, and ultimately statehood." 

In addition to the RHNDA, the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 also came into effect today. This Act closes a long-standing loophole--the so-called "Armstrong Amendment"--to the D.C. Human Rights Act that allowed religious educational institutions to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

"It is a great day for human rights in our city with the elimination of the Armstrong Amendment as well," added Grosso. "I call on all members of the House and Senate to cease political grandstanding with their attacks on D.C. laws and instead focus on  issues in their own backyard."

###

1 Comment

Comment

Grosso: Chaffetz Should Stop Attacking Human Rights

For Immediate Release
April 21, 2015

Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun
(202) 724-8105

Grosso: Chaffetz Should Stop Attacking Human Rights

Washington, DC -- Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) issued the following statement on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s vote to disapprove D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-discrimination Amendment Act of 2014:

“Coming on the heels of efforts by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to bully the Mayor and Council in February, Chaffetz has decided to again attack D.C. self-government. Despite his avowed dedication to limiting the federal government, Chaffetz called for a vote today to overturn a local D.C. law that I proposed last year, the Council passed unanimously, and the Mayor signed.

I call on Congress and the President to reject this inappropriate meddling by Chairman Chaffetz in D.C. affairs. Surely the Congressman’s constituents in Utah would prefer that he focus on their concerns, and not on waging ideological battle against D.C. residents. Interestingly, Utah recently enacted a new law to provide limited non-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in that state. If Chaffetz is so concerned about protecting people’s right to discriminate, perhaps he should seek to overturn that law, in his state, and leave D.C. alone.

As I have said before, in D.C. we stand for the human rights of everyone, including reproductive rights. There is no human right to discriminate. Chairman Chaffetz should stop worrying about the Reproductive Health Non-discrimination Amendment Act and focus on the very real problems facing Congress.”

The Reproduction Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014 amends the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 to ensure that individuals are protected from discrimination by an employer or employment agency based on an individual’s or dependent’s reproductive health decision making, including a decision to use or access a particular drug, device, or medical services, on the basis of an employer’s personal beliefs about such services.

###

Comment