A Houston-area health educator alleges that she was fired for her religious beliefs. Karen Alexia Palma filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last Wednesday. She was fired from Legacy Community Health in July.
The discrimination charge stems from the fact that part of Alexia’s job was teaching a family planning class three times a month. As a devout Catholic, she is morally opposed to contraception, and, as she told the Washington Post, “I will always put my faith first.” For 18 months, Legacy Community Health accommodated Alexia’s religious beliefs. Clients in Alexia’s classes still had full access to information about birth control, and Alexia showed a 20-minute video about contraception as part of the class. A registered nurse was available to answer patient questions. Alexia described the accommodation as “very small” and said “it did not increase the work of other employees at Legacy nor did it cause hardship upon my employer.”
In June, however, under new management the accommodation abruptly ended. Not only was Alexia informed she must start teaching about contraception directly, she was told she would be forced to attend trainings at Planned Parenthood. Alexia refused, and she was then fired.
When Texas Right to Life, which is headquartered in Houston, heard about Alexia’s harrowing story, our employees worked to connect Alexia with legal defense. Through Texas Right to Life, she reached First Liberty Institute, which specializes in advocating on behalf of religious freedom. Lawyers from First Liberty Institute are now representing Alexia in her complaint filed with the EEOC.
Ironically, the Legacy Community Health website states, “We believe that by doing what is right, and speaking up for what we believe, we are making a difference.” Alexia was doing what she firmly believed was right and was unafraid to stand up for those beliefs. Instead of seeing that she was fulfilling the mission of the community health organization, which seeks to assist patients regardless of their ability to pay, Alexia was fired. As Life News notes, many Pro-Lifers have been vilified and discriminated against precisely for their defense of the Right to Life.
Forcing someone who is Pro-Life to teach about abortifacient contraception is a shocking abuse of power. Alexia’s complaint with the EEOC sheds light on an increasingly common issue. As the abortion lobby attempts to “normalize” anti-Life views, Pro-Life employees must fight for their right to defend their beliefs instead of attending mandatory trainings at Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business.
Emily Horne, senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, assisted Alexia gain legal assistance. Horne stated:
Alexia’s story is an inspiring reminder to stand firm for your convictions no matter the pressure or cost. The right to conscience is a battlefield with growing intensity, but one from which Texas Right to Life will not shy away. For Pro-Lifers, our convictions are absolute, representing the difference between Life or death, and must be protected. We appreciate Alexia’s resilience and willingness to lend her voice and story to the movement, paving the way to protect those behind her.
Texas Right to Life supports Alexia and all Pro-Lifers who face discrimination in the work place. We pray that Alexia’s courageous legal action will bring justice.