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Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher bill would protect a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions

East County News Service

September 15, 2017 (Sacramento) -- California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) won final Legislative approval of her bill protecting women from being fired for a pregnancy. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act would also prevent an employer for firing or disciplining a woman for making any other decision related to her reproductive health. The bill now heads to the Governor, who has until Oct. 15 to either sign or veto the proposal.

AB 569 passed the Assembly by a margin of 45-13 after passing the Senate 27-13 on Sept. 12.

“Women in this country have been fired for getting pregnant while unmarried, for using in-vitro fertilization and for other personal reasons related to their own reproductive health,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “This is outrageous and needs to stop. No woman should ever lose a job for exercising her right to decide when, how, or whether to have a family.”

California is not immune to issues pitting an employer’s religious beliefs against reproductive health concerns of workers. In 2012, a San Diego woman was fired from San Diego Christian College for getting pregnant before she was married. She told reporters that the experience “stripped me of my dignity and humiliated me. I not only lost my source of income and my health insurance to care for myself and my baby through my pregnancy, but I also lost my career and my community.” She also said the college offered her boyfriend – the father of her child – a job shortly after firing her, so the religious school was discriminating on the basis of gender, not marital status of a parent, the action suggests. Also, in 2015, the Archbishop of San Francisco attempted to add a code of conduct forbidding teachers from using birth control and sperm donations.

AB 569 protects employees from retaliation or discrimination for using any drug, device or medical service related to reproductive health. The bill would also forbid employers from forcing employees to sign codes of conduct related to their reproductive health decisions.

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