Bill Puts Unmarried Pregnant Women At Risk

The First Amendment Defense Act aims to prevent discrimination but it could just discriminate against single moms and the rising number having babies out of wedlock.

Bill Puts Unmarried Pregnant Women At Risk Halfpoint/Shutterstock

As if unwed pregnant women didn't have enough to deal with, a new Republican-backed bill is being proposed in Congress that would potentially put these mothers-to-be at risk of being fired from their jobs—all in the name of religious freedom.

Known as the First Amendment Defense Act, the bill essentially allows both individuals and corporations to "broadly" follow their religious beliefs, including the preference for traditional marriage between a man and a woman, while protecting them from discrimination by the federal government. Ironically, this means the individuals or corporations looking to have their religious freedom protected would therefore be enabled to discriminate against anyone who doesn't fall in line with their beliefs. So if a woman becomes pregnant or has a baby out of wedlock and effectively goes against her employer's views held with respect to marriage, she has no way of keeping herself from being fired on the grounds of not complying with the chosen faith.

Related: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Pregnancy Rights at Work

Wider repercussions

If passed, the bill would affect more than just single moms: A recent study found that for women under 30, most births happen outside of marriage, while according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 20 percent of women who had their first child between January 2000 and June 2014 were living with an unmarried partner.

Related: Pregnancy in America: Does Marriage Matter?

The exact wording of the document is fairly straightforward, but leaves a lot of room for interpretation and judgment: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

Anti-discrimination or just discrimination?

It's no big logical leap to assume that this bill stands to restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in addition to many women, single or otherwise, who are expecting or already have children.

At this point, the bill was assigned to a congressional committee in June and could be reviewed by the House or Senate. Thankfully, govtrack.us gives the bill a measly 2% chance of being enacted, so it's unlikely that it will go into effect. Still, the legislation is under consideration and, if it passes, pregnant women who aren't married could face untold discrimination.

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