WASHINGTON – Having just won back control of the House in this year's midterm elections, Democrats now have their sights set on an issue near and dear to people of faith: the sanctity of life.
As they prepare to take over the chamber, 50 Democrats have agreed to co-sponsor legislation that would effectively cripple the 25-year-old Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That brings the total number of Democratic House legislators supporting the bill to 172.
RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, is designed to protect employers from being forced to cover abortion-inducing forms of contraception.
According to The Washington Examiner, H.R. 3222 would make it so LGBTQ rights and other progressive causes would take precedence over religious freedoms.
In addition, supporters say the bill would reverse the Supreme Court's rulings in the Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases.
Leftist groups backing the measure argue that religious beliefs are nothing more than a smokescreen for bigotry and hate, the Examiner reports.
"Today RFRA is being used as a vehicle for institutions and individuals to argue that their faith justifies myriad harms — to equality, to dignity, to health, and to core American values," Louise Melling with the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a 2016 blog.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) echoed that sentiment during a hearing held last month by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.
She told her colleagues that she was not so much concerned about preserving conscience protections as she was about an emerging "school of thought that weaponizes religious liberty."
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Democrats out for what many view as a blatant attack on the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.
"The purpose of today's hearing is to learn what happens when an assault on religious liberty reaches its logical conclusion," he told the subcommittee. "To attack religious liberty is to attack the dignity of a person. It is to deny him or her equal citizenship and to erode that which makes us free."
For now, RFRA appears to be safe since the GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to approve the measure.
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