Beware of Bills in Sheep’s Clothing

There is a bipartisan tradition of naming bills such that no reasonable person would oppose them. For instance, changes to our tax system came with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Who’s against jobs? And how could anyone have voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., “Obamacare”)?

Well, here we go again. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would result in transformative cultural change with the congenially named Equality Act (HR 5). What decent person would oppose equality?

A decent person who values the right to life, that’s who. Given the current legal climate, even those who are moderate on the right to life issue should oppose the Equality Act.

The bill reads “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” Abortion supporters view pregnancy as a medical condition that is cured by abortion. Abortion would be no different from an appendectomy. Thus HR 5 would overturn the Hyde Amendment that prevents federal money from funding abortion. It would also require doctors and nurses to participate in abortions even if doing so violates their beliefs, including their freedom of conscience.

Insurance plans would have to pay for abortions because treating pregnancy like any other condition would require it. Therefore all of us would be paying for abortions through taxes to fund Medicaid and when buying health insurance.

If mandatory funding of abortion is not enough to concern moderates, HR 5 in the current legal and political climate should definitely concern them. The U.S. Supreme Court has just let stand a ruling that Indiana’s prohibition of abortion for sex selection, race, or disability is unconstitutional.

Surely moderates on the right to life issue do not want to pay for abortions because the baby is the wrong sex or race. Moderates also would not want healthcare workers to be required to participate in such abortions.

The benignly named Equality Act is radical. It is a radical attack on freedom of conscience as well as life.

Happily, HR 5 does not stand a chance of becoming law right now. While the House has passed the bill, it is unlikely that the Senate will pass it.

Still, the Equality Act is another demonstration of the extreme goals of the abortion lobby. Recently the abortion lobby has been making its agenda clear. The governor of Virginia openly allowed for situations in which babies could be killed after birth, and he paid no political price. The Freedom Tower, of all buildings, was illuminated in pink to celebrate the passage of New York State’s radical pro-abortion law.

In the midst of dismaying pro-abortion extremism, there are still reasons to be hopeful. The number of abortions performed in America is on the decline. Pregnancy help centers are serving women and helping meet the practical needs of those who choose life. Women and men are finding forgiveness for past abortions. CBS News reported that the lone abortion facility in Missouri may be shut down for failure to comply with state regulations. The movie “Unplanned” shows the stark reality of the abortion business. Several states have passed laws that strengthen protections for unborn humans.

Yet the Equality Act reminds us of the overbearing power of the state. The biggest threats the pro-life movement face are oppressive laws and court decisions. If we are free to educate, love, and serve, the cause of life will be advanced. We must be on guard lest our representatives limit our freedom by passing laws with benevolent names that nonetheless would harm our society.


—Dr. Joseph J. Horton is professor of psychology at Grove City College and the Working Group Coordinator for Marriage and Family with the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He is also a researcher on Positive Youth Development.