California Bill Bans Employers From Firing Women Who Use Birth Control

Trump’s election was wildly celebrated by evangelical fanatics across the nation, and that cheering was certainly related to their potent new weapon in the Republican war on women. Having an anti-women’s rights and misogynist in the Oval Office is a serious threat to women at the federal level, but possibly more so at the state level. Women who are unfortunate enough to live in GOP controlled states are in serious trouble because with an anti-women’s rights administration appointing an anti-women’s rights religious attorney general, it is  certain the DOJ will always support anti-women legislation. Women who live in solidly red states are in the deepest  trouble, but only if they object to religious Republicans aiding evangelicals’ efforts to control their reproductive health choices.

Women in California are a governor’s signature away from receiving a lifeline in the form of legislation that forbids religious employers from forcing women to sign religious “statements of faith” or “codes of conduct” in order to keep their employment. The legislation also prohibits employers from retaliating against a [female] worker for making reproductive health decisions contrary to religious employers’ objects to. The truth is that the religious fanatics generally object to women making any reproductive health decisions that prevent them from becoming perpetual birth machines.

The legislation, AB 569 (Discrimination: Reproductive Health), was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) who said religious employers have been regularly discriminating against female workers’ based on their reproductive health-care decisions in California. The legislation was sponsored by NARAL, Pro-Choice California, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and sixteen faith-based groups signed a letter supporting the anti-discrimination legislation.

The legislation simply “protects workers from discrimination or retaliation for using any medications, medical service, or device related to reproductive health.” The legislation is particularly necessary now because a few months ago Trump signed an executive order  greatly “expanding religious imposition” authority while surrounded by that misogynistic group of Catholic nuns still furious that the Affordable Care Act contained contraception coverage; coverage they still assert is a violation of their religious freedom to control women’s reproductive health.

The bill’s sponsor said the legislation was necessary to stop religious employers from “infringing on a woman’s right to make personal decisions about birth control and pregnancy.” Religious employers, and not just “church-affiliated” organizations, are not shy about their intent to control women’s reproductive choices.

It is important to remember that the private company Hobby Lobby is not a “religious organization” or “church-affiliated.” And yet they convinced the conservative wing of the Supreme Court that contraceptives, including birth control pills, are “abortifacients” and tantamount to having an abortion. The Court’s “religious imposition” ruling was founded on Hobby Lobby’s owners’ “religious belief” that contraceptives are abortions, and since that was “their heartfelt religious belief,” they won the legal right to deny women’s access to contraceptives.

Ms. Gonzalez Fletcher wasn’t stretching the truth when she said religious employers discriminate against women’s healthcare decision. For example, a San Diego Christian College required a financial aid specialist to sign a document pledging to not to have premarital sex, and then fired her for “becoming pregnant” and using her “pledge” as proof she violated the employer’s religious code. In liberal San Francisco the Archbishop attempted to force teachers to sign a “code of conduct” pledging they would refrain from using birth control or attempting to conceive by artificial insemination; fortunately for female teachers in San Francisco the attempt failed, but the attempt should have incited a massive outrage. Instead, California Democrats had to pass legislation making those attempts illegal.

The bill’s sponsor said in a statement:

Women in this country have been fired for getting pregnant while unmarried, for using in-vitro fertilization and for other personal reasons related to their own reproductive health. No woman should ever lose a job for exercising her right to decide when, how, or whether to have a family.”

Sadly, the minority religious fanatics running the United States vehemently disagree with the legislation and one of the bill’s primary opponents is a revolting religious outfit, the California Family Council; It is the policy arm of the Family Research Council and its president was livid that pro-life employers may be prohibited from literally forcing their religious beliefs down their employees throats. Seriously, the California Family Council president, Jonathan Keller said:

“Every organization that promotes a pro-life message must be able to require its employees to practice what they [the employers] preach. It is unconscionable for any politician to attempt to abridge this sacrosanct religious liberty by inserting themselves into the employee-employer relationship.”

Keller, like his dirty theocratic ilk, firmly believes that evangelicals’ “sacrosanct religious liberty” includes controlling women by way of controlling their reproductive health. That bizarro-world version of “religious liberty” is fervently embraced by Catholic organizations and they present a monumental threat to women’s ‘personal liberty” to decide when, how, and if they give birth.

Over the last few years Catholic organizations have been buying up hospitals, clinics, medical networks, and physicians groups  and demanding absolute fealty to the Catholic Hospitals Association rules and regulations regarding women’s reproductive health choices. After coming under Catholic ownership, those physicians, hospitals, clinics etc. are required to abide by the United. States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs). The Vatican-inspired ERDs strictly forbid abortions, even in the case of rape or incest,  and forbid access to contraceptives, sterilization procedures, in vitro fertilization or the use of sperm or egg donors.

If California Governor Jerry Brown signs AB-569, women will have a measure of protection from religious employers who believe infringing on a woman’s right to make personal reproductive decisions is just part of their “sacrosanct religious liberty.”

This dirty religious imposition situation is not going to get any better for women  and California women may want to put any wild celebrations on hold. No doubt if Governor Brown signs AB-569 there will be a flurry of church-funded lawsuits to protect employers’ right to impose their religion on their employees to control their reproductive lives. What should give every American pause is that in 21st Century America a state legislature has to pass legislation banning employers from attempting to control a woman’s reproductive life. It should also leave Americans asking what kind of leaders advocate allowing a fanatical religious sect to control women under the aegis of the federal government that is not the Taliban.

h/t Rewire

Trump Signs Bill Killing Program Helping Retirees Avoid Poverty

One of the issues with the seemingly non-stop scandal stories and self-inflicted crises coming out of the White House is that Republicans in Congress can pass legislation under cover of Trump’s increasing number of screw ups. It was hardly reported that while nearly all media attention was focused on Trump’s obstruction of justice this week, he signed a Republican “resolution”  created to kill states’ ability to help workers save for their retirement.

What immediately comes to mind is; why on Earth are Republicans and Trump killing provisions that have no impact on the federal government, and why are they violating their storied support of “states’ rights?” The answer is more complex than simply stating Republicans are against American retirees’ well-being in their sunset years, but it is glaringly obvious the impetus for the nasty action was abolishing an Obama-era  provision that benefitted low-wage working people to enrich the financial services industry.

Republicans used the Congressional Review Act that allows the majority party in power to pass resolutions without risking Democratic opposition or media coverage as it progressed through the Senate. Joint Resolution 66 was signed by Trump late Wednesday evening and abolishes states’ rights to “create programs addressing the coming retirement crisis.

That crisis President Obama attempted to address is due to the growing income inequality that has steadily increased since Reagan due to more working Americans earning low wages according to the will of corporate America. Those low wages have resulted in fewer Americans able to live day-to-day, much less save even a penny for their retirement. That “fewer Americans” amounts nearly half the workforce in the United States. It is a travesty that in the richest nation in the history of the world a stunning 40-million households have “absolutely no retirement savings” and it portends a significant percentage of the population living out their golden years in dire poverty; something Republicans have no problem with and just acted to ensure reaches fruition. Add to that horrid statistic Republicans’ intent to decimate both Social Security and Medicare to sate the greed of the Koch brothers and wealthy elite leads one to defy any conservative asshole to argue that Republicans don’t hate the elderly.

One state’s Democrats took advantage of the Obama-era provision and sought to help California’s low wage workers by developing a “landmark new experiment in nest-egg building” known as “California Secure Choice.” The new retirement program sought to protect employees, primarily over 7.5 million California  low wage employees, who were not offered any retirement savings plans through their employer; nationwide such a program would help nearly half the workforce and prevent about 40 million households from being poverty-stricken during their retirement.

The law that Governor Jerry Brown signed last September was set to go into effect in 2019. At least that was the scheduled date until the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and “mutual funds industryconvinced Republicans that even one state-run retirement system would be unbearable competition the free market-loving Republicans couldn’t allow; even though the California plan was specifically designed to “fill in the gaps where retirement plans were not already offered.”

Since the California plan was not in competition with Wall Street, mutual fund industry, or the banking-financial services industry, one can only concluded that Republicans are Hell-bent and duty-bound to guarantee that as many retirees live in poverty as possible. It is also a sure sign that Republicans and Trump are deep into their crusade to do the bidding of Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the expense of the people’s welfare.

As California’s freshman Democratic Senator, Kamala Harris noted shortly after the GOP connived to use the Congressional Review Act to prevent Democrats from registering the opposition:

At the behest of the financial services industry, Republicans just overturned a rule that helps American workers save for retirement.”

According to Republican Senator Orin Hatch, helping hardworking Americans in their golden years is the purview of Wall Street and the financial services industry that combined have done nothing whatsoever to address the  impending retirement or income inequality crisis. Hatch defended abolishing “states’ rights” to help their workforce saying, “There’s absolutely no justification for any effort to reinvent the retirement savings system in order to give primacy to government-run plans.”

One can read whatever they want in Hatch’s statement, but it’s obvious that besides lying about what California’s safety net for retirees entails, Hatch and Republicans are doing the bidding of Wall Street’s expansive financial services industry. His statement also exposes the Republican intent regarding the Social Security Trust that Republicans in the embrace of Wall Street and the Koch brothers condemn as a failed “government-run plan.” Remember, Republicans ultimately want the Social Security Trust abolished in favor of forcing all Americans into the private sector’s “retirement savings system;” what George W. Bush promoted as privatizing Social Security.

There is no justification for Republicans in Congress or Trump interfering with a state’s right to aid their low-wage workforce except sheer savagery. California’s program did not have any effect on the federal government budget or Wall Street and their financial service industry that supported the Republican Joint Resolution 66; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the Republican effort because it has been a staunch defender of the corporate and big business’ dream of an entire nation of slave-wage workers.

This abomination is also yet another glaring example of Republican hypocrisy. They ardently defend states’ rights when it involves gun proliferation, attacks on voting rights, and religion-based laws encouraging discrimination and attacks on the LGBTQ community and women’s rights. But if a state attempts to create a safety net for retirees at no cost to the federal government and with no impact on Wall Street or their financial services industry, then Republicans eschew their fierce defense of states’ rights. In this case it will guarantee another 40 million seniors living in poverty and it’s a guarantee fully endorsed by congressional Republicans and corrupt Donald Trump.