The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit against the state of New York over a new law, alleging it forces pro-life organizations, churches and others to hire abortion fanatics.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York on behalf of the pro-life CompassCare, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and First Bible Baptist Church.
Defendants are Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon and Attorney General Letitia James.
The issue is SB 660, which was signed into law by Cuomo on Friday. ADF said it "requires all employers – including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy centers and religious nonprofits – to disavow their beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to hire and employ whose who refuse to abide by the organization's statements of faith."
"CompassCare offers comprehensive information and free medical care, practical resources, and hope to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies," said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle. "Every woman deserves the support she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in her pregnancy. But New York's new law forces CompassCare to contradict its own beliefs and to employ staff who endorse abortion – a decision that harms women and ends innocent lives. No one would force PETA to hire employees that hunt on the weekends. CompassCare deserves that same courtesy and equal freedom under law."
The complaint explains the case is a pre-enforcement federal civil rights action that challenges the constitutionality of the state's dictation to the faith groups about their beliefs.
ADF said SB 660 is "the third in a trio of abortion-protective and abortion-advancing laws passed by the New York State Legislature this year and seeks to remedy a non-existent problem. The bill's proponents failed to cite any documented instances of employment discrimination based on 'reproductive health decisions' in New York or anywhere else."
"No government has the right to tell pro-life or religious organizations they must hire someone who doesn't agree with their core mission," said ADF Senior Counsel Ken Connelly. "New York is directly demeaning religious pro-life pregnancy centers and other faith-based organizations – like religious schools, Catholic hospitals, and even churches – by ordering them to violate their beliefs in key personnel and leadership decisions. The state is requiring our clients to contradict their convictions and undercut their freedom of association – requirements that are flatly unconstitutional."
"Gov. Cuomo has characterized pro-lifers as extreme and stated that they have no place in New York. He claims his comments were misconstrued, but his actions this year show that he actually meant what he said," Connelly said. "In January, he signed into law a bill that would effectively permit abortions up until a child is born. In April, he signed a bill requiring no-cost coverage of contraceptives, including abortifacient drugs. And now he has signed into law SB 660, a bill championed for years by Planned Parenthood, which requires religious and pro-life employers to hire and employ those who reject their belief that children deserve the chance to be born. Gov. Cuomo's message to pro-life New Yorkers is loud and clear: The abortion agenda of Planned Parenthood trumps the lives of the unborn, and anyone who disagrees will be forced to bow to the state’s orthodoxy by force of law."
The state is attempting to control the "employment contracts, employee handbooks, statements of faith, positional statements, and codes of conduct" for private and religious groups, the filing states.
"SB 660 yet furthers the affront to the autonomy of these religious and pro-life organizations by requiring them to include notice of the 'rights' provided by this unconstitutional law in their employee handbooks, thereby compelling them to speak the government's message," the complaint says.
It says the legislative history of the campaign for the rights restrictions shows "that the law intentionally targets religion for disfavored treatment."
"SB 660 intentionally and by design sacrifices the associational, speech, and religious freedom of employers in New York state – including religious non-profits, churches, and schools – to the government's desire to promote abortion rights by gutting the ability of pro-life employers to hire to their pro-life missions," says the complaint