dnha

 

Do No Harm Act

 

On Sept. 15, 2021, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker re-introduced the Do No Harm Act (DNHA) in the Senate. The bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott, Steve Cohen, Jamie Raskin, and Mary Gay Scanlon in February 2021. The DNHA will restore the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to its original intent by preserving the law's power to protect religious freedom, while also clarifying that it may not be used to harm others. Read our press release.

“The Do No Harm Act will uphold our country’s founding principle of religious freedom – that everyone has the freedom to believe as they want, but our laws cannot allow anyone to use their religious beliefs to harm others.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was intended to protect free exercise and religious minorities, yet some are misusing this law to ignore nondiscrimination protections and deny people access to health care, jobs and government-funded services. This exploitation of religious freedom especially harms LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious by undermining their civil rights and equality. The Do No Harm Act would preserve RFRA’s power to protect religious exercise while ensuring it cannot be used to cause harm.

“We thank Senator Cory Booker for sponsoring the Do No Harm Act, and we urge Congress to quickly pass this critical bill to ensure that religious freedom remains a shield that protects all of us, not a sword used to harm others." 

~ Rachel K. Laser, President and CEO of Americans United

Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, meaning that everyone should be able to practice their religion or no religion at all, so long as they do not harm others. But now RFRA is being misused to deny people access to health care and discriminate against LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, and the nonreligious. 

We must protect Americans from those who exploit that law to harm and discriminate against others. The Do No Harm Act will help preserve our right to free exercise of religion and prevent religious exemptions that endanger other people’s civil rights. 

Under the Do No Harm Act, RFRA will continue to protect religious exercise. For example, people in federal prisons and immigration detention centers could still use RFRA to protect their right to attend worship services or keep religious texts. And Sikhs and Muslims could still use RFRA to get an exception to allow them to serve in the military while wearing beards or other articles of faith.

 

TAKE ACTION: Urge your Senators and Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act

 

developments

Sept. 15, 2021: U.S. Sen. Cory Booker re-introduced the Do No Harm Act in the Senate. Read AU's statement here.

Feb. 25, 2021: The Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1378) was re-introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.). Read AU's statement here; read the statement from Members of Congress here.

Sept. 14, 2020: A panel of experts talked about the misuse of RFRA and the need for the Do No Harm Act. Watch the panel here.

June 25, 2019: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser testified before the House Education and Labor Committee on the misuse of RFRA, urging members of Congress to support the Do No Harm Act. Read Rachel's opening statement here; watch the hearing here. Read testimony  given by Rep. Joe Kennedy and the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins.

 

Rachel Laser testifying before Congress

Feb. 28, 2019: U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) re-introduced the Do No Harm Act in Congress. Read AU's statement here; read the statement from Members of Congress here.  

June 4, 2018: Read Rachel Laser’s op-ed on the Do No Harm Act here.

May 22, 2018: U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the Do No Harm Act in the U.S. Senate. Read AU's statement here.

July 13, 2017: The Do No Harm Act was re-introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Read AU's statement here; read the statement from Members of Congress here.

May 18, 2016: The Do No Harm Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Read AU’s blog post here; read the statement from Members of Congress here.

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