By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, April 21, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) voted for a resolution to reject a Washington DC directive which would limit the rights of Pro-Life groups and businesses in our Nation’s Capital City.
US Representative Palmer said in a statement: “The right to life and the right to free exercise of religion are fundamental to everything I believe. The Declaration of Independence says that we have certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. The First Amendment to the Constitution enshrines the right to free exercise of religion. Whenever these rights are threatened, Congress should take action. H.J. Res. 43 would ensure that these rights are protected, and I am proud to support it.”
H.J. Res. 43 is a response to the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, which was signed on January 23, 2015, by newly elected Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). The outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray (D) opposed the bill on the grounds that it was “legally problematic” under the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The bill would add “reproductive health decisions” to DC’s nondiscrimination laws. This could potentially force religious, pro-life and similar organizations to hire people who support abortion, and even force them to provide insurance coverage for abortion.
According to an opinion by US Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow, “Under the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, a Catholic school could not fire a principal who had an elective abortion and announced this to staff and students, and stated she believed this decision was consistent with Church teaching.” Kirsanow stated in a letter to the DC council, “This is absurd….[N]ot only is there nothing invidious about religious organizations making employment decisions on the basis of employee behavior, but such decisions are protected by the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of association and freedom of religion.”
In 1973, Congress passed the Home Rule Act, giving the DC Government considerable autonomy. The Congress does have a 30 day congressional review period of all DC legislation. The bill was sent to Congress for review on March 6, 2015. The period for this review lasts until April 30, 2015.
If enacted into law, H.J. Res. 43 would block the controversial Pro-Choice measure from being implemented. The Oversight Committee recently held a markup of the bill, and Congressman Palmer supported the bill at the markup.
The bill passed by a 20-16 margin.
Many Americans believe that abortion is the slaughter of perfectly healthy babies usually for lifestyle or convenience issues. Millions more believe that it is every woman’s reproductive choice and a right guaranteed by the US Constitution. The controversial Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision struck down anti-abortion laws across this country, including those in Alabama.
Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.