Three Republican senators just blocked a bipartisan bill that would have granted pregnant workers a water bottle, a place to sit, and extra breaks.
On December 13, Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina opposed a vote on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill that aimed to give pregnant people in the workplace extra accommodations like a place to sit, extra bathroom breaks, and a water bottle. It doesn’t seem like too wild of an ask, considering not everyone in the U.S. has paid maternity leave available.
Tillis inaccurately claimed that the act would force employers to “provide accommodations such as leave to obtain abortions on demand under the guise of pregnancy-related condition.” He spoke not only for himself, but for fellow Republican senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Steve Daines of Montana.
“Mr. President, I and a number of other people do not believe that abortion is health care. I believe it’s a brutal procedure that destroys an innocent child,” Tillis said. “The federal government should not be promoting abortion, let alone mandating that pro-life employers and employers in states that protect life facilitate abortion on demand.”
To be clear, no where in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act does it mention abortion. “This bill prohibits employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. A qualified employee is an employee or applicant who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the position, with specified exceptions,” reads the dead bill’s introduction.
The bill had received support across the aisle and had passed out of the Senate Committee with a 19-2 vote.
“I regret that my colleague has objected to this bill, but I reject the characterization that this would do anything to promote abortion,” Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on the Senate floor.
“I think even those that oppose would agree that we need to have a safe environment for pregnant women and their unborn children in the workplace,” Cassidy said. “I would say that this bill is pro-family, pro-mother, pro-baby, pro-employer and pro-economy. I hope at a later point we can pass,” he concluded, per HuffPost.
Lawmakers are hoping to revisit the bill before the end of the year, although it is unclear when that would exactly happen. Now is as good of a time as ever to contact your senators in support of pregnant workers’ rights.