Article Title

Abortion Rights Are Pregnancy Rights: Interpreting the Scope of Pregnancy-Related Medical Conditions Under Title VII


This article considers the scope of the protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” It argues that the text and purpose of the PDA support interpreting these terms broadly to reach the full range of reproductive choices related to the capacity for pregnancy. The paper will first examine the relevant history of the PDA and Supreme Court’s interpretation of the PDA’s protections. It will then review court decisions considering whether lactation, contraception, and infertility fall within the PDA and assess arguments about why the statute should be read to exclude these conditions. Finally, it will consider the rejection of nearly identical arguments in the context of abortion.

While the effects of Dobbs cannot be overstated, this paper will show that abortion-related protections in the workplace are deeply rooted in the PDA. Whether Title VII protects individuals from abortion-based discrimination does not depend on whether abortion is a constitutional right, but rather on whether abortion is considered “related” to pregnancy or the potential for pregnancy. This paper will show that courts considering this question have universally concluded that it does.