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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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New law may force pro-life groups to hire abortion activists

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, May 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life lawsuit seeks to nullify a city ordinance giving pro-abortionists “protected class” status.

In February, the City of St. Louis passed an ordinance criminalizing employment or housing “discrimination” against women and any employee's dependents who have had or were planning to have an abortion.

Ordinance 70459, introduced by Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green, also prohibits employment or housing “discrimination” against anyone for using contraceptives; abortifacient drugs; fertility treatments, including those that destroy embryos; and sterilization.

The city law additionally prohibits employers from inquiring about prospective workers’ experience or asking their opinion about abortion or contraception.

Christian schools, church charities, Christian employers, and religious non-profits immediately raised objections to the ordinance, saying it unconstitutionally stifles them from holding true to their beliefs.  

The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Our Lady’s Inn, a home for pregnant women; Catholic Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and the St. Louis Archdiocesan Elementary Schools; and Frank Robert O’Brien-owned O’Brien Industrial Holdings against the city ordinance.

Our Lady’s Inn et al vs. The City of St. Louis claims the ordinance violates the free speech rights of pro-life organizations and the freedom of religion rights of Christian schools and businesses. The complaint also lists violations of the First Amendment’s Right to Expressive Association, and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause and the Equal Protection clause.

“This ordinance does not prevent or resolve any problem,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Sarah Pitlyk told LifeSiteNews. “It certainly does not prevent discrimination; in fact, it is itself discriminatory. And it violates the constitutional and statutory rights of all St. Louis citizens. Therefore, we expect the court to declare it unconstitutional and invalid.”

“The city has taken the protections typically granted to prevent discrimination for ‘race, age, religion, sex or disability’ and applied them to those who have made or expect to make ‘reproductive health decisions,’” Pitlyk explained. “‘Reproductive health decisions’ is so overbroad as to include any decision that is any way related to contraceptive use or abortion. The law would therefore force nonprofit organizations like Our Lady’s Inn, whose mission is to promote and facilitate abortion alternatives, to hire abortion advocates, despite their opposition to the ministry’s reason for existence.”

The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division, also claims that Ordinance 70459 violates several state laws, including the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“This ordinance does not exempt individuals with sincere religious, moral or ethical objections to abortion from its requirements in any way, and even for qualifying religious organizations, the exemption for employment … is extremely limited … vague and undefined,” Pitlyk said. “That is unconstitutional, and directly violates both federal and state law.”

A Thomas More Society press release explained, “The language of the new law creates protections for anyone who has ‘made a decision related to abortion,’ even when the abortion is not their own.” It is speculated that this could include anyone advising a woman to abort her baby.

Furthermore, the ordinance forbids “Christian organizations and individuals whose teachings hold abortion to be a grave sin, from refusing to sell or rent property to individuals or corporate organizations that promote or provide abortions.”

The city law seeks to “compel private businesses to include abortion coverage in their employee health plans, despite sincere objections by (Christian) company owners — a requirement that has already been held unlawful by the Supreme Court of the United States (Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius et al.) and is also unlawful under Missouri law,” the press release said.

The city ordinance is found here.

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