SPRINGFIELD - A bill making its way through the Illinois Legislature would require employers to discriminate between employees based on gender.
The amended bill (HB 008), which passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday, is back in the House for final approval. Sponsored by State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), it requires special privileges for pregnant employees, such as allowing them to take more bathroom and water breaks, sit down more frequently during their shifts, receive special help with manual labor, and be provided non-bathroom privacy for breastfeeding.
Because the legislation is based on a female-only condition - pregnancy - HB 008 criminalizes employers who fail to treat employees unequally based on gender.
As such, the question arises if the Illinois legislature will grant similar "rights" to men (and non-pregnant women) suffering with cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, or other physical conditions that may require discrimination against healthier employees who will be legally forced to perform the work of their less-healthy, but politically advantaged, colleagues.
How much consideration of women's reproductive condition is enough? Will these proposed work rules affect the hiring of women of child-bearing age? And will women not of child-bearing age be expected to bear the burden of their working sisters that are fertile?
A culture that is pro-life celebrates pregnancy, even if it takes special consideration during that experience. The problem arises when volunteer compassion and concern are legally required rather than freely offered.
The Illinois House has yet to re-consider the bill and should perhaps take all these issues into consideration.