New York is blatantly discriminating against those who advocate for the sanctity of human life, and the Thomas More Society is taking the matter to federal court. Representing Evergreen Association, Inc., the non-for-profit public interest law firm is holding New York State and New York City accountable for their disregard of the First Amendment. Evergreen is a charitable organization operating maternal health and pregnancy centers under the names Expectant Mother Care and EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers. The Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief was filed January 21, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The complaint charges both the state and city of New York with discriminating against pro-life organizations in the following ways:
• Violation of the right to association (First Amendment)
• Violation of due process (Fourteenth Amendment)
• Violation of free speech (First Amendment)
Legislation targeting pro-life advocates appears to be in line with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement denouncing those who espouse pro-life views as “extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York.” In the same pattern, a recent string of New York attorneys general has sought to silence peaceful citizens offering abortion-bound women information on life-affirming alternatives.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Timothy Belz stated, “This is especially egregious when you consider that the law was packaged with other bills specifically designed to strip away any regulation of abortion. New York’s ‘Boss Bill’ was passed in tandem with the state’s Reproductive Health Act which legalizes abortion until the birth of the child and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act which requires health insurers to provide no-cost birth control, including abortifacient drugs, in their health plans.”
Chris Slattery, Director of EMC Frontline, explained, “We are all about saving the unborn lives threatened by abortion. Thus, we are all about offering alternatives to abortion. New York’s discriminatory laws undermine our charitable mission. How could we in good conscience hire someone who advocates abortion to encourage expectant mothers not to pursue that deadly route?”
The case challenges the constitutionality of New York’s so-called “Boss Bills,” laws that make support of abortion a protected class in the employment nondiscrimination laws of both New York State and New York City, thus forbidding employers from making hiring and promotion decisions based upon “reproductive health” decisions of employees or applicants, including the decision to have or promote abortions. The laws pose existential threats to pro-life organizations because they impose debilitating fines and also provide for statutory damages.