An Uber driver who learned his passenger was headed to an abortion clinic in New York refused to complete the trip because it violated his conscience has been fired by the rideshare company.
If you encountered a stranger on her way to get an abortion, would you speak up? What if you knew it could cost you your job?
The Stream reports:
A 20-year-old college student in New York alleged on Reddit in late March that an Uber driver left her on the side of the road after learning that she was going to obtain an abortion.
“I’m in college in upstate NY and I don’t have a car on campus because it’s expensive,” she explained in a second post. On discovering she was pregnant, she opted for abortion “because I’m in no position to care for a child.” Since the Planned Parenthood near her school didn’t have an appointment in the time frame she desired, she chose an abortion clinic an hour away and got an Uber. She writes:
After about five minutes in the car, [the driver] asked, “are we going to a planned parenthood?” I said no (because we weren’t), but it set off alarm bells that he would even ask that. … After a few more minutes he asked, “are we going to an abortion clinic?” …
He then said “I know it’s none of my business, but …” and proceeded to mention something about his wife being pregnant, how awful the procedure was (and proceeded to explain it in graphic detail), and that “there is so much they don’t tell you.” He then said “you’re going to regret this decision for the rest of your life” and that I was making a mistake.
She writes they were “about halfway to the destination” when he stopped the car. “There was a gas station and a closed antiques store, and around us was farmland and forest. He said ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t take you the rest of the way. I can take you back to [my city], but you won’t be able to find another Uber out here.’”
She called a cab, and says the Uber driver “waited around for about 15 minutes, assuming I’d change my mind. I insisted I was fine and that he should go back and he eventually left.” She says she made it to her appointment an hour late.
Do Uber Drivers Have Conscience Rights?
The student apparently wants to sue the driver. But even those who empathized on social media acknowledged that her damages didn’t amount to much. “I reached out to a law firm and a few legal aid societies but nothing has happened,” she writes.
She did succeed in making sure he won’t drive for Uber again. The Daily Caller confirmed he’d been fired; Uber cited safety reasons. “Dropping someone off in the middle of nowhere threatens someone’s safety,” a spokeswoman told the Caller.
This leads to legal questions worth considering. Conservatives have recently fought (and in some instances, won) for the conscience rights of wedding vendors, adoption agencies, and medical professionals. But what about Uber drivers who don’t want to drive somewhere that violates their conscience?
Answering the question may be legally tricky. That’s because determining whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors depends on which court you ask. For the drivers, it’s not as easy as ignoring requests for certain locations. Uber drivers can’t see a passenger’s intended destination until they agree to the ride. As a company, Uber has a policy against “destination discrimination,” though that can be pretty vague. If drivers do cancel the ride upon seeing the destination, Uber warns they can be deactivated — banned from working for the company.
Food for Thought
A system displaying the requested destination ahead of time could have made things easier for our pro-life Uber driver. It’s easy for us to say he should have canceled the ride from the outset, rather than drive the woman halfway, then leave her on the side of the road. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, the realization about where they were headed may have dawned on him slowly. Perhaps there was an internal struggle. At least he stayed with her till she insisted he leave.
Live Action president Lila Rose tweeted last week that he’ll have help should he need it. A Live Action representative told The Stream on Monday the offer’s still valid.
Regardless of where the story goes from here, it offers food for thought — about conscience rights, and even more poignantly, about what we would do in that situation. Would we mind our own business, or risk seeming intrusive? Would we try to save our job, or try to save a life? How would we balance concern for the unborn with compassion for the mother, whose circumstances and inner thoughts we can’t fully know?
This Uber driver’s alleged actions can certainly be nitpicked. But the general point is worth remembering. He listened to his conscience, and stood up for life.
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