During his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said he didn’t believe employers were currently able to fire women for their reproductive decisions, specifically their choice to use birth control.
Back in 2015, Price voted for a resolution that would have dismantled the District of Columbia’s protections for women from being fired for their reproductive health decisions. The description of the resolution clearly states that it disapproves of the D.C. Council’s vote to approve the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, which protects people from workplace discrimination based on their reproductive health decisions.
But during Wednesday’s senate hearing, Price insisted that the resolution he voted for would not have the effect of allowing employers to let workers go because of their personal health decisions. Here’s part of the exchange, with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.):
Hassan: No, the question is whether an employer, who, let’s say, in a self-insured, employer-provided health insurance plan, finds out that a female employee who earned the benefit with her hard work is using the benefit to provide health ― to provide birth control, to buy birth control, which the benefit provides, and then fires her because the employer disapproves of the use of birth control.
Price: I don’t think that’s the case.
Hassan: You don’t think that ― would you like us to provide examples for you?
Price: Yeah, I’d be happy to.
Hassan: So, you would be willing to say that employers may not — you would support a law, a rule, that employers may not discriminate against women for their reproductive health decisions?
Price: I don’t think that employers ought to, that employers have the opportunity right now to be able to let somebody go based upon their health status or the medications that they use.
To help Price out, here are just a few examples of women being fired for reproductive choices their employers didn’t agree with, compiled by the National Women’s Law Center:
1. Christa Dias was fired from her job as a Catholic school teacher in Cincinnati in 2010, after school administrators found out she was unmarried and had become pregnant through artificial insemination. A jury awarded her more than $170,000 in 2013 after she filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
2. Kelly Romenesko was fired from her teaching job at two Catholic schools in Wisconsin after she and her husband became pregnant through in vitro fertilization. The termination took place in 2004, just a few days after she told her boss that the fertility procedure had worked. Romenesko and her former employer, the Appleton Catholic Educational System Inc./Xavier, reached a settlement in 2007.
3. Emily Herx was fired from her job at a Catholic school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2011 after school administrators found out that she and her husband were undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. A jury awarded her $1.9 million in damages in 2014 after she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.
4. Christine John was fired from her job at a Seventh-day Adventist school in Michigan after school officials found out she was pregnant before she got married in 2005.
5. Shaela Evenson was fired from her job at a Catholic school in Montana in 2014 after an anonymous letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena revealed that she was pregnant and unmarried. She had become pregnant through artificial insemination. In 2016, Evenson and the school reached a private settlement.
6. Michelle McCusker was fired from her job at a Catholic school in New York in 2005 after she disclosed that she was pregnant and not planning to get married. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a discrimination complaint on her behalf, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2006 that she had been the victim of unlawful pregnancy discrimination.
7. After being compelled by a state law to offer employees insurance plans that included birth control coverage, the Madison Catholic Diocese in Wisconsin told employees that they could be fired if they actually used the benefit to get contraception.
Price’s vote on this resolution is one of many legislative decisions he has made against reproductive choice and the right to an abortion. He has sponsored unsuccessful legislation that would have granted constitutional rights to fertilized embryos, voted for legislation that would have banned abortions nationwide 20 weeks after fertilization, and is against the Affordable Care Act’s birth control coverage mandate.