By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Monday revived an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center’s challenge to a New York state law that prohibits retaliation against employees for getting abortions or making other reproductive health decisions.
A panel of the Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state law violates Evergreen Association Inc’s constitutional right to freedom of association by forcing the nonprofit, which counsels patients against getting abortions, to employ people who go against its message.
The 2019 law makes it illegal to discriminate or retaliate against workers because of their “reproductive health decision making.” New York City adopted a similar law in 2018.
Evergreen, which does business as Expectant Mother Care, operates numerous pregnancy counseling centers in New York City and its suburbs. The group sued in 2020 to block the state from enforcing the law against it.
“Evergreen’s beliefs about the morality of abortion are its defining values; forcing it to accept as members those who engage in or approve of that conduct would cause the group as it currently identifies itself to cease to exist,” Circuit Judge Steven Menashi wrote.
Menashi and the two other judges on the panel are appointees of Republican former President Donald Trump.
The court sent the case back to a federal judge in Syracuse, New York, for further proceedings.
The panel affirmed the judge’s dismissal of Evergreen’s other claims, including that the law violates its rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
The New York Attorney General’s office and lawyers for Evergreen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Grant McCool)