Pregnancy: A “Curable” Disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act should be expanded to include pregnant workers, according to research to be presented… at the American Association of Law Schools annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“The recent expansion of the ADA’s protected class now includes persons with minor temporary physical limitations comparable to pregnancy’s physical effects,” said employment discrimination expert Jeannette Cox.

[…]

“This reluctance to associate pregnancy with disability, however, has resulted in a legal regime in which many pregnant workers currently have less legal standing to workplace accommodations than other persons with comparable physical limitations,” Cox wrote[.] — (Read the full article at udayton.edu)

Though pregnancy is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for absences incurred, it does not cover women whose pregnancy limits the physical work which may be safely performed that some jobs might require i.e.,  “lifting… repetitive bending, reaching, prolonged sitting or standing, extensive walking, driving, or working under conditions such as high temperatures.”  Cox and others are lobbying to have pregnancy covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act so that pregnant women will be protected from employment termination due to the physical incumbrances associated with pregnancy.  While I believe employers have a moral duty to accommodate pregnant women, I think it is a mistake to have pregnancy protected under the umbrella of the ADA.

It’s not that I am opposed to legal protection for pregnant women, I would rather see it covered by something other than the ADA.  The ugly creature of unintended consequences has a nasty habit of biting hard.  My concern isn’t even the potential abuse and exploitation of the protection by pregnant women.

According to the ACLU, “Abortion is part of basic health care for women and should be included in health insurance plans along with other pregnancy related care…”.  And Reproductiverights.org refers to abortion as “reproductive healthcare”.  Abortion advocates and defenders have gradually inserted into the abortion debate the implication that pregnancy is a negative health condition.  By referring to abortion as health care, the inference is drawn that pregnancy is a health condition in need of a cure.

As I had previously written in Pregnancy: Won’t You Help Cure This Terrible Disease?, it is this kind of rhetoric which serves to desensitize women and society to accept elective abortion as normal and necessary.  If you can convince women that pregnancy is bad for you by likening it to a disease, it only follows that a remedy is required–and in fact is a right and moral thing to desire.  I firmly believe this deceptive language is intended to blur the moral compass of women, and deaden their conscience to what is actually happening during an abortion.

Civil rights groups and abortion activists will latch on to the coverage of pregnancy under the ADA with an iron grip.  They will argue that pregnancy is comparable to being physically disabled.  There will be a push for government funding of elective abortion and cry “discrimination!” if denied, since other “cures” for disabilities are fully or partially funded by the government.  And lawsuits will be filed to have elective abortion covered by health insurance for the same reason.

Because abortion advocates and defenders cannot argue from science (See: Get A Life, Part 1), or philosophy (See: Get A Life, Part 3), you can be assured they will argue from a technicality — pregnancy is a disability, and a “curable” one: abortion.

This is where I see this headed if pregnancy is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Of course this is not the desired result, but it will most certainly be the unintended consequence.  Pregnant women should not be discriminated against, and ought to be protected in the work place if their pregnancy temporarily limits their physical abilities.  But pregnancy discrimination laws should be expanded to encompass this problem, not addition to the ADA.

Comments

  1. I feel bad. I’m in transit this week and can’t look too deeply, but this is a pretty fascinating legal discussion. http://affnet.ucp.org/ucp_channeldoc.cfm/1/13/12632/12632-12632/6184 has “limited in their ability to do housework” which I think is a pretty odd addition and also not strictly related to pregnancy. I always liked the statement “I’m not sick. I’m pregnant.” That’s the positive view that women should live essentially normal lives, not be bedridden.
    The mom gets to choose if the baby can ride. That’s the best societal decision, and the baby, were it a thinking and compassionate adult, should respect that. I would.
    But great article definitely…

  2. Great article, John!

  3. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    I was becoming increasingly annoyed as I read this post. For a minute I thought you were going to argue against any accommodation for pregnant women, which would flabbergast me. But then as I continued to read – having learned my lesson in the past – I began to understand. Then you said something I had never before considered.

    Civil rights groups and abortion activists will latch on to the coverage of pregnancy under the ADA with an iron grip. They will argue that pregnancy is comparable to being physically disabled.

    I have no doubt you are correct, especially given some of the senseless drivel that comes out of Cecile Richard’s mouth. Ever heard her speak? If no, be glad. I despise that woman. She’s a hateful, disgusting human being; truly the lowest of the low. I guarantee she’d be among the first to latch on and spread it to all her dutiful followers.

    • T

      You should have known better that I wouldn’t want to restrict accommodation, I think it is morally incumbant on employers, but not necessarily legally incumbant. That is why I’d like to see more coverage under current pregnancy discrimination laws, just not the ADA. If covered by the ADA, you will see the biggest lobby for govt funded abortion, as well as a rise in elective abortion just because abortion advocates and defenders will be able to convince young girls and women that pregnancy is not a good thing. Else, why would the government call it a disability?

  4. Terrance H. says:

    I actually wrote her a letter once and challenged her to a debate in front of my fellow students. She was going to be in town anyway so there were no additional travel expenses to be realized. But of course she refused.

  5. I don’t understand, John, why you don’t think accommodation should be necessarily legislated in the case of pregnancy. This seems contrary to the value we place on an unborn child. Even if we want to argue that laws should reflect prohibitions- don’t you even remotely believe that employers ought to be prohibited from terminating, punishing, or otherwise inconveniencing pregnant employees?
    I don’t buy into your conspiracy theory either. Classifying pregnancy as a disability merely tells it like it is:pregnant women in the workplace are lesser abled than an otherwise equally skilled employee without child. The infrastructure and funding for the ADA is already in place, it serves a similar mandate, and resolves issues in a way that would be consistent with any new legislation designed to protect pregnant women in the workforce.
    I think your whole argument rests on the canard that people will refuse to differentiate between disabilities- even if this were true you are arguing that we should just avoid feeding a logical fallacy at an unjustifiable expense to the taxpayer.

    • You should go back and re-read George. I said employers have a moral duty even if they don’t have a legal duty, but expansions to pregnancy protections should be done under current protective legislation and not the ADA.

      If you think for a second that abortion activists won’t latch on to pregnancy being covered by the ADA you’re out of your mind. Many already defend abortion by calling a fetus a parasite. They defend it be saying its not a person. They jump through hoops in order to justify taking babies’ lives through abortion.

  6. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    I do think George makes an excellent point. It should be legally incumbent for employers to watch out for pregnant women. Why? If we believe the unborn child is a human being deserving of rights and protections, we have to ensure that the mother is not forced to perform duties that may be of danger to the child. Heavy lifting, strenuous movement, inhalation of certain substances, among other things pose a real danger to the well-being of the unborn child.

    I do agree the ADA is not the proper route to take, but a route needs to be taken.

    • Am I giving the impression that I am not for expansion of protections for pregnancy? I merely noted that employers are not necessarily legally obliged to protect the jobs of pregnant women, but I think they have a moral obligation. I also think, as do you, that the expansion should be implimented somewhere other than the ADA.

  7. Your wording in your response to Terrence’s first few comments implies that you don’t feel that way.

    , I think it is morally incumbant on employers, but not necessarily legally incumbant. (sic)

    This sounds like you don’t support protecting pregnant women with legislation, merely depending on moral suasion of an enlightened employer.
    I don’t know much about the legislation currently protecting pregnant women in the U.S., but if there is no federal law already in place specifically for their protection, then I think the ADA is an already working framework for those protections. To try and avoid using it only because it gives pro-choice people a logical fallacy to spout seems like throwing money away to avoid a poorly framed argument.
    I would also like to see protections in a specifically framed legislation, if only because I think new legislation allows us to expand protections and rights to pregnant women that are unique to their needs.

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