The Equality Act Doesn't Stop Discrimination, It Bans Dissent | Opinion

When members of Congress first introduced the Equality Act, which will likely be voted on this week, President Joe Biden strongly supported the bill, asserting that "every person should be treated with dignity and respect." That is, everyone except those who disagree with the revolutionary aims of the legislation. And despite being named the "Equality Act," the law further entrenches unequal treatment for the most vulnerable among us, putting their lives at risk.

At a time when America is suffering from deep divisions and the president himself has made impassioned pleas for national unity, the Equality Act appears designed to stoke conflict. It violates both the reason and conscience of every single American who fails to affirm the most extreme dogmas of the farthest fringes of the modern Left. The bill would provide public funding for left-wing social engineering and use the force of the state to silence debate on the most contentious issues of our time. It would also open the door to unprecedented funding for the abortion industry.


Let's look at abortion. Gone are the days when pro-abortion politicians demanded the so-called "right" to an abortion. It is no longer enough that killing one's child is upheld as a constitutional right—now your neighbors must pay for it. The Equality Act requires all federal and state health programs, along with every hospital, clinic, school or health care organization that receives federal funds, to stop what it calls "pregnancy discrimination" and provide access to all "treatments" for the "condition" of pregnancy.

Federal law already bars discrimination against pregnant mothers. What the bureaucratese in the Equality Act actually means is that sustaining a pregnancy must be treated exactly the same as ending a pregnancy. Providing an ultrasound for a mother to see her baby's hands and hear her baby's heart would be considered no different than committing an abortion that stops a baby's heart and forcibly removes a baby's hands, head and limbs from his mother's womb piece by agonizing piece.

Not only would this bill destroy the long-standing and bipartisan Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used to pay for abortion, but the Equality Act also removes all religious and conscience exceptions. That means no doctor that serves Medicaid patients will be allowed to disagree, no hospital that accepts Medicare will be allowed to refuse and no citizen will be able to stop her hard-earned money from subsidizing the deaths of the youngest and most vulnerable people in our society. Health care providers who have been hailed for the past year as heroes would be condemned by this legislation to lose their livelihoods unless they violate their consciences.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Through linguistic sleight of hand, the Act would not only massively expand abortion, but would also redefine pregnancy as a "disease" to be "cured"—and unborn children as a "physical condition" to be "removed." The message is clear: Women are only equal if they deny their miraculous ability to help create and sustain life and renounce the innate love they have for their unborn children. The goal of this legislation isn't to celebrate and respect women as they are. It is an attempt to compel women to act like the worst of men, who desire sex without consequences and life without commitments.

In a further insult to women, the Equality Act would destroy hard-won protections against sex discrimination by imposing new bans against what they call gender discrimination.

Every society in human history, including our own, has recognized that men and women are different. Women deserve our own bathrooms and locker rooms that we can use for safety and privacy, our own shelters and centers that we can access without fear of predators, and our own sports teams and organizations that provide space for fair women-on-women competition. The Equality Act not only removes these protections, but it also punishes those who disagree by mandating that biological males have access to all-female spaces in "any establishment that provides a good, service or program." That means pretty much everywhere.

Charities, churches, adoption agencies, doctors, hospitals, employers, schools and nonprofits that continue to believe, as everyone did just a few years ago, that there are biological males and biological females could face federal sanction. Absurdly, the Equality Act attempts to end discrimination by discriminating against women, along with anyone who doesn't hold the Left's extreme cultural views. Far from being a shield to protect the vulnerable, this legislation is a club to punish dissent.

The Equality Act is unlike any other bill before Congress. Most legislation is meant to spark debate and help unite our country around a common purpose. With this bill, though, the radical Left has revealed it no longer cares about simply winning the debate. Rather, the Left wants to stop the debate from ever happening in the first instance by threatening those who disagree with its agenda. This type of spiteful coercion is un-American. Every person of goodwill—Democrats, Republicans and everyone in-between and beyond—must forcefully reject this divisive legislation.

Lila Rose is the president and founder of Live Action, a human rights nonprofit for the global pro-life movement. She is the author of Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World and the host of "The Lila Rose Show" podcast. You can follow her on Twitter: @LilaGraceRose.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.