A law meant to offer accommodations for pregnant workers has been “twisted” to “undermine human dignity” thanks to a new regulation mandating paid abortion leave, according to the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Broglio.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to accommodate women for workplace limitations that arise from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, had the full support of the bishops when lawmakers considered the bill in 2022.

However, regulations issued by President Joe Biden’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this year have interpreted the related medical conditions covered in the law to include abortion.

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Broglio denounced the administration for its new regulations. His op-ed comes less than one week after the bishops filed a lawsuit, which asks a court to strike down the abortion accommodation rule.

The archbishop argues that the regulation “distorts the law beyond recognition” and turns “the plain text of the law on its head to promote abortion.” He noted that the bishops supported the law for its “protections for pregnant women” but that the agency “subverted the law’s noble goal by turning it into an abortion-accommodation mandate.”

“The bill is pro-woman, pro-family and pro-worker,” Broglio said. “It is also bipartisan. The text requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations — such as paid time off or modified work schedules — for the various needs that arise during pregnancy and childbirth. It bars employers from denying employment opportunities to a pregnant employee because of these needs, or from taking adverse action against her.”

However, Broglio said, the bishops’ commitment “to promoting human dignity must include defending the unborn and supporting women in their pregnancies.” He argued that the rules to accommodate abortion mandated by the Biden administration are “unjust and illegal.”

“In the [government’s] telling, having an abortion is the equivalent of pregnancy or childbirth,” Broglio added. “Required employer accommodations would include offering paid leave to obtain an abortion, and employers who express pro-life perspectives could be subject to legal liability.”

Under these regulations, the archbishop warned that the anti-retaliation language would prevent pro-life employers, including religious employers, “from encouraging employees to choose life instead of abortion.” He argued that “religious employers cannot require their employees to be faithful advocates of the sanctity of life” under the rules.

“If the government’s rule is allowed to stand, the bishops and Catholic ministries nationwide will be penalized for doing what they have done for centuries: teaching and serving the infinite dignity of every person,” Broglio said. “We will not compromise that twofold mission of walking with women and honoring the unborn. We look forward to the courts’ vindicating our right to do so.”

From the Catholic News Agency