a bird and a bottle


Want To Prevent Pregnancy? You’re On Your Own.
March 18, 2007, 12:18 pm
Filed under: activism, civil rights, feminism/s & gender, law, news, reproductive justice

BCP
As many feminist bloggers have already noted, a federal appeals court held the other day that it is not discrimination for a private employer to exclude the birth control pill or other female contraceptives from its healthcare coverage, so long as it excludes male contraceptive techniques (vasectomies, condoms) too.

Which I guess makes sense, since American law seems to be OK with companies treating workers badly, so long as that treatment is bad for everyone, regardless of sex.

Congress pretty much ensured a result like this when it passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in the 1970s (the PDA is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). The Act, meant to staturily overturn the Supreme Court’s recent holding in Gilbert that pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act reads, in part:

women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

In its holding the other day, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that because the PDA does not specifically mention contraception, it is not protected — or covered — under the Act. Generally, courts have held that this requires employers to treat pregnant women (and those aiming to prevent pregnancy) no better and no worse than other employees. Which means that employers can treat pregnant women badly — denying them health coverage, maternity leave, etc., — so long as they treat other similarly situated employees just as badly.

This case makes clear that we need a new Pregnancy Discrimination Act that requires employers to make allowances for pregnancy that will enable women to remain vital participants in the workforce and will help eliminate the mommy track. I’ve written before that I don’t think doing whatever it takes to allow women and mothers to work the same gazillion hour weeks as men; instead, I think our whole society needs to shift its works expectations. But whatever work expectations we have for women, they need to take biology into account, not ignore it.

That the 8th Circuit doesn’t think the PDA requires contraceptive coverage shouldn’t be surprising given the Supreme Court’s pregnancy-related jurisprudence and the PDA’s language itself. What it should do is be a wakeup call that we need a new PDA better suited to 21st century feminist concerns.

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[…] Want To Prevent Pregnancy? You re On Your Own.Congress pretty much ensured a result like this when it passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in the 1970s (the PDA is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). The Act, meant to staturily overturn the Supreme Court s recent … […]

Pingback by Pregnancy - Maternity » Blog Archive » Pregnancy Forums - Henna Pregnancy Body Art Kit

[…] justice, feminism/s & gender, academe, civil rights, Law School, law, sexuality, news As I have noted before, the Supreme Court’s pregnancy discrimination jurisprudence is pretty stingy. In Geduldig v. […]

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