ACLU threat to abortion opponents puts religious liberty at risk

As the pro-life movement continues to gain momentum across the country, small legal efforts are revealing the hold of religious accommodation on the abortion industry. It appears that one case headed to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York is headed that way.

The New York Blood Center is an incredibly successful, massive, multi-state and non-profit blood bank and it’s only expanding. The private-public partnership aims to maintain safe and plentiful blood supplies across the five boroughs of New York City and two states, Long Island and New Jersey. The public end of the partnership works well to serve the people, but don’t worry, their political agenda limits the religious provision in the spirit of religious accommodation.

Similar to a property owner who always has the right to choose a tenant, the blood center’s leaders have the right to choose the religious accommodation for their employees and volunteers. Right now, these employees and volunteers support the pro-life movement by defending and saving life. In no way, shape or form is this a violation of their religious beliefs or against their own personal religious freedoms. The blood center has a legal right to determine and govern its own employment.

Let me be clear, the blood center isn’t forcing their employees and volunteers to participate in the actual cause of abortion or the killing of an unborn human life. They are simply choosing to offer accommodations to employees who believe that the life of the unborn is sacred, but ultimately it’s their right to determine how their employees spend their time and energy.

In 2012, it was reported that New York Blood Center would grant religious exemptions in hiring and promotions that “hinged on policies opposing full use of contraceptive and abortion services.” This request was made by a pro-life employee of the center and was accepted. The request was only granted for those full-time employees who were active in their religion and who lived within the New York City Waterway jurisdiction of the New York Blood Center. So, according to the employee, his religious beliefs superseded his responsibilities as a New York Blood Center employee.

The New York Blood Center amended their employment policy to reinstate the religious accommodation to all employees, regardless of the employee’s religious beliefs. That move was hailed by pro-life advocates and abortion opponents alike. The New York Times called it a victory for religious freedom and noted that it was a win for all.

Fast forward to the present, where the pro-life group, Renew Albany, filed a lawsuit against the New York Blood Center with the intention of stopping their nearly unprecedented effort to expand. A short time later, the New York Attorney General’s office issued a letter to the New York Blood Center instructing them to not expand beyond the current boundaries of the New York City Waterway. The state claimed that the blood center should not expand because their existing exclusive zone for employees and volunteers makes it “illegal to demand that non-working employees and volunteers support and participate in those activities.”

This attempt to drastically expand their employees and volunteers rights while restricting their religious accommodations is unconstitutional. It’s about the United States Constitution, not an alien race, or religion.

Understandably, this type of religious accommodation to abortion-activists is receiving a great deal of backlash. Some people even feel a bit threatened by it. Attorney Gloria Allred, a feisty advocate for abortion extremists and Hillary Clinton, was quick to tweet about the new threat to life and contended that this was the first in a series of similar attacks on religious liberty. But should this supposed rule actually be enforced? Because the facts don’t support such a claim.

The Supreme Court has established a strong precedent for religious accommodation. In the 2000 District of Columbia vs. Heller decision, the court established a Christian employer who didn’t want to hire abortion-activists to sue the government for non-discrimination. If the goal is to prevent abortion by preventing abortion-activists from working at a private business and then limiting religious accommodations when a business refuses to hire them. The ACLU would be well-advised to “take a lesson from history” and evaluate for its purpose of what limits constitute undue burden. The opposite of undue burden is no burden at all.

I wholeheartedly support an abortion-free America, but as we become more pro-life, we have to draw the line. It’s not right for the non-violent employees and volunteers of a private, not-for-profit business to stand for destruction of innocent life because of their religious beliefs.

Jason Write covers Catholic issues for PJ Media. Follow him on Twitter @JasonWrite2.

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