(LifeSiteNews) An attempt by radically pro-abortion lawmakers in the state of New York to force pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to hire and retain pro-abortion employees appears to have come to an end with a Tuesday decision from a federal court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City reversed a decision by a lower court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by pro-life “hero” Chris Slattery in defense of his organization’s mission to support mothers and families facing crisis pregnancies.
“We are thrilled,” Slattery said in an email release. “[This] is a major victory for the pro-life world, and Catholic and Christian schools and organizations, thanks in a large part to the Thomas More Society and their great crack attorneys.”
Slattery is the founder of Expectant Mother Care (EMC), a network of New York City-based pregnancy centers that provides only pro-life alternatives to abortion. Over the past three decades, the network attests to having saved an estimated 43,000 children from abortion.
In 2019, the state of New York passed its so-called “Boss Bill” in tandem with its infamous Reproductive Health Act, which legalized abortion up until birth and was described as being “no different than infanticide” and “more barbaric” than procedures permitted under China’s One Child policy.
In a further assault on the lives of preborn children, this “Boss Bill” law makes support of abortion a protected class in employment nondiscrimination laws 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.
As a result, these laws always pose an existential threat to pro-life organizations because they prohibit them from discriminating against employees or employee applicants based on their proabortion views or participation. If such an employee sues them for simply fulfilling their pro-life mission in this regard, such laws also impose debilitating fines and provide for statutory damages.
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The Thomas More Society (TMS) challenged this law with a filed complaint in federal district court in January 2020 on behalf of Slattery’s Evergreen Association, Inc., which operates EMC and its “EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers.” On March 31, 2021, the district court dismissed Evergreen’s arguments and TMS responded by filing the appeal.
In Tuesday’s decision, the Second Circuit affirmed that the lower court was wrong in dismissing Evergreen’s claim that the “Boss Bill” violated its First Amendment right to expressive association. The case will now be sent back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court’s ruling.
“A counselor who espouses pro-life values but did not regret having had an abortion or would opt to have an abortion in the future would undercut Evergreen’s message,” Thomas More Society special counsel Timothy Belz said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews. “Evergreen’s constitutional right to expressive association allows it to determine that its pro-life views can be conveyed only by those who completely support and affirm the organization’s mission, in both word and deed.”
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Belz added that no organization should be compelled to hire employees opposed to its core principles. “That would be a contradiction and expose the organization to accusations of hypocrisy. That is true across the board for all types of groups. For example, a parochial school should not be forced to employ an atheist as a teacher, and an animal shelter should not have to hire an adoption facilitator who hates dogs.”
When considering the ruling’s national implications, Belz said that states must realize these types of laws will not withstand constitutional scrutiny. “We trust the Second Circuit’s ruling will discourage any state legislature from enacting legislation that would violate an organization’s First Amendment rights, including the right to work with those who share their values.”
The three judges in the case included decision author Steven J. Menashi, along with Michael H. Park and William J. Nardini, all of whom were nominated by President Donald Trump in 2019.
Editor's note: This article was published by LifeSiteNews and is reprinted with permission.