United States – A federal judge in Arkansas has declined a lawsuit that 17 Republican-led states launched against a U. S. agency rule that grants pregnant and postpartum workers the same employment rights as those who are pregnant or newly postpartum, including women who had abortions.

Judge’s Rationale and Decision

US District Judge D. P. Marshall in Little Rock, Arkansas, wrote in his Friday order that the states failed to have standing to challenge the EEOC rule because the agency has no plans to enforce it on them before it goes into effect on Tuesday, as reported by Reuters.

This rule created a law that Congress passed in 2022 with bipartisan support and the endorsement of most big business groups that protects most employers from pregnancy-related conditions.

Marshall, in his decision, said that it was not improper for the EEOC to include abortion as a related condition in the rule and that the states, which alleged that the regulation would interfere with state bans on abortion, were mere speculation.

“This is a case of a disagreement of a few words – a disagreement that hardly has the potential to develop into a few, if any, factual disputes,” argued Marshall who was appointed by a Democrat ex-Presidents Barack Obama.

The EEOC and the attorney generals of Arkansas and Tennessee who filed the suit in this case did not respond to commentaries from the press on Monday.

Lawsuit’s Claims and Judge’s Response

The states claimed in the lawsuit that was filed in April that the new law does not meet what Congress considered as a medical condition that is relevant to abortion. They stated that the ability to force state workers to abort would violate the provisions of law and the policy of nonavailability of public funds to support abortions.

Marshall on Friday stated that, in most cases, workers who obtain abortions will not inform their employers, and therefore, the states are unlikely to be sued for failing to provide accommodation on abortions. And even if that did, state employees could still sue for violations of the pregnancy law even if the EEOC rule is blocked, the judge stated.

Abortion Restrictions Across the States

Currently, 14 US states have no possibility of having an abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or any threat to the life of the woman, while several other states allow abortions in very limited circumstances, including after six weeks of pregnancy, says the Guttmacher Institute, which is a reproductive health nonprofit that promotes abortion access, as reported by Reuters.

This certainly proved to be a creative addition to the states’ lawsuit, which also pleaded that the rule was improper because the commission violated the U.S. Constitution because of its formation. They argued that since the head of state, who is the president of the United States who appoints five of the EEOC, has the authority to hire, he must also have the power to fire.

members Marshall did not wade into those claims on Friday, either.