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Arizona HB 2625, Bill Allowing ANY Employer to FIRE Women Who Use Birth Control, Advances in Senate

A proposed piece of legislation passed by the Arizona House of Representatives and currently making its way through the Senate would allow any employer to deny women coverage for contraception and permit them to fire female employees who use birth control pills.

According to the Arizona Republic, HB 2625 makes it okay for both religious and secular employers to deny health coverage for contraception if said employers object to birth control for moral reasons.

(Click HERE for full text of the bill)

Worse, the bill eliminates this crucial anti-discrimination provision of current law:

“A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.”

That means that, if passed, Arizona employers could fire women who are using contraception for birth control, not other medical reasons.

“I personally don’t have a moral objection to contraceptives but I respect the people that do,”  Rep. Debbie Lesko, the Republican who introduced the measure, told KTVK 3. “House Bill 2625 allows Arizona employers to opt out of the contraceptive mandate if they have a religious or moral objection”

But Arizona already has a law that permits religious employers to deny workers contraception coverage for religious reasons. HB 2625 would expand that prerogative to all employers, and that has got many people alarmed.

“I think this just goes to what we’ve been saying about the bill,” ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham told the Arizona Republic. “It isn’t really about guaranteeing an individual’s religious liberty but ultimately is about eliminating access as much as possible to basic health services for women.”

“A lot of women require contraception for a variety of serious conditions things like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, conditions that can be very dangerous,” Abraham told KTVK 3.

“It would just open the door to every employer and every insurer in Yuma County to superimpose his or her values on the major health care decisions available to the women of Yuma County,” Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, told the Yuma Sun.

Howard said that if the bill becomes law, women in rural areas could be particularly affected.

“Fortunately in Yuma County we have the Planned Parenthood health center where we have affordable contraception,” he told the Sun. “But in places like Lake Havasu City, or towns that are farther away from health centers, accessing affordable contraception could be a real barrier.”

HB 2625 passed the Arizona House earlier this month by a vote of 39-18. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure on Monday; it now heads to a full Senate vote before being sent on to Republican Governor Jan Brewer if passed.

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28 Comments

  1. MJMarch 14, 2012 at 12:50 pmReply

    Oh but Mitt Romney said he is going to do away with Planned Parenthood. So if he wins the election in November, which we all need to pray about, all women in America will be in serious trouble. We don’t need a religious fanatic in the White House. We don’t need either of his running mates either.

  2. Pam in TexasMarch 14, 2012 at 1:44 pmReply

    This is ludicrous! This bill makes it feel like we are back in the times when women had NO RIGHTS. Remember when women could not vote, when women could not make decisions about their own bodies, or when we had no place outside the home (workforce) except to serve the male in a way they see fit?
    Wake up ladies! I am absolutely appalled that a woman is the one who introduced this bill in the first place. It is absolute discrimination! Are they going to add in the bill that a MAN can be fired for using CONDOMS or a Vasectomy?!? And make condoms only available by prescription?
    We already have a high enough rate of unwanted pregnancies. Will this law also allow companies to fire women for obtaining abortions, hysterectomies, or even tubal ligation?
    What happened to the right to privacy in a medical record. It is no one’s business if I am using any sort of contraceptive or not!

  3. Tom in long beachMarch 14, 2012 at 1:49 pmReply

    America needs to see the true colors the Republicans are showing us before it elects Romney or Ricky. Also most people against contraception are usually unwilling to spend money on social services, schools or other things hordes of unwanted kids would need,

    • EtienneMarch 15, 2012 at 5:29 amReply

      I don’t understand? When did we as a nation start paying for birth control for everyone? How is it a right to have the nation pay for individuals birth control? I will not interfere with any individuals choice in this regard because we live in such a great nation. So please tell me, why should the left be allowed to tell me that my tax dollars should pay for birth control for man or woman? Up until 40 years ago no one would have thought of this as a possibility! But as the liberal agenda has grown it now seems that opposition against the state paying for this is an attack against women. That is BS at its greatest.

      • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2012 at 7:15 amReplyAuthor

        We’re beyond the “who pays for it?” debate here. What we’re talking about now is being able to DISCRIMINATE (which includes firing) simply for using birth control.

      • JoeMarch 15, 2012 at 4:53 pmReply

        The only way that your tax dollars are even involved is if you really believe that somehow your tax dollar are paying my insurance premium. If you believe that, there is no help for you anyway, so why even try to comunicate with you on any subject.

      • Kimberly BrooksMarch 16, 2012 at 1:38 pmReply

        What don’t YOU understand about who pays???? YOU aren’t going to pay for me; I’m not going to pay for YOU! What this bill does is make THE PILL only available to be paid for under a female’s health insurance IF her employer says it’s OK. This has absofuckinglutely nothing to do with YOUR tax dollars. Turn off Fox Noise and Limbaugh and start paying attention to FACTS not opinions.

  4. Lynda in Santa CruzMarch 14, 2012 at 3:36 pmReply

    Well put, Pam. If they are going to do this, then they must also fire men who use condoms or choose vasectomy as a form of birth control. Coitus interuptus (pulling out), since it’s an artificial form of birth control and causes the seed of the man to fall on the ground, must also be a cause for firing. Which means that you must allow your employer into your bedroom. This law is in direct conflict with Federal HIPPA laws, but at this point I certainly don’t trust that to cause it to be struck down if passed.

    This may sound like ludicrous hyperbole, but that’s my point. This legislative direction is ludicrous and it scares me that so many elected officials can’t see that. However, given the mentality that has led to where we are today, it’s not out of the question that what I’ve just said will ultimately happen if we continue in this vein.

    This is strictly a religious issue, not a secular issue, and as such must not be legislated. It is the first step down the inevitable path leading back to the outlawing of all sexual intercourse that isn’t done in missionary position within a marriage – again. And ultimately, it doesn’t look like a very long path.

    I was a devout Christian for decades, and studied Scripture in great depth (which ultimately caused me to leave the church while while maintaining my belief in a creator and keeping a spiritual and moral compass which, among other things, requires me not to judge or interfere with the individual/personal choices of others), and I never found anything in the Bible that commands the followers of God and His Son, Jesus, to force others to make the same individual/personal moral choices that those followers have opted to make.

    The Bible clearly states that God allows everyone to choose freely, and has not commanded any of his followers to block the ability of others to make a different choice, or to punish them for doing so. Choose not to use birth control of any kind for yourself – it’s still your right to have more babies than you can afford to support, although you are supposed to turn to God, not the State, for the means to support them – but there is clearly no Biblical mandate to force that choice upon anyone else, whether they be members of your own congregation or “outsiders”.

    There’s an awful lot of stone-throwing going on here – a practice forbidden by Christ, who said, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Those who go down this path (most of whom are denominational Christians and all of whom follow some sort of religious affiliation or belief system that condemns those who choose medical means of birth control) are openly defying Christ’s mandate not to throw stones (because “there is no one without sin, no, not one”) and God’s own plan of personal responsibility. Doesn’t that scare the heck out of anybody? It does me!

    Medical conditions and the choices made in dealing with them are not anyone’s business. Employer or not, nobody has the right – or even the need – to know what medications another takes – male or female – let alone why they are being taken. The door this opens is a very scary one. It will send us right back to legally firing or not hiring folks with epilepsy, mental illness, or physical handicaps, and any other number of perceived physical, mental, or moral “flaws” that right now are subject to medical privilege. Might as well resurrect Hitler, install him as president, and usher in the Fourth Reich with open arms.

    • HollyMarch 14, 2012 at 4:50 pmReply

      YES. Thank you.

  5. mary ellainMarch 14, 2012 at 8:54 pmReply

    Linda in Santa Cruz, well said.
    It’s unreal that any government and any elected female politicians would would even conceive of voting or supporting such a bill. These women have totally gone against the sisterhood of women. Such hatred against women who are having sex. ACLU is already working on this and I hope they can stop it in Federal court. I don’t think the GOP owns all the judges.
    I thought I had seen everything but this tops the cake.

  6. staceMarch 14, 2012 at 9:58 pmReply

    I have read the bill several times and don’t see where the employers have a right to fire for birth control usage. Being in HR, I am sure HR wouldn’t allow this to be a fireable offense.

    • C CampbellMarch 15, 2012 at 10:37 amReply

      Stace — I re-read the article several times to understand this too. The existing law (as I understand it) says this: “A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.”
      The new law will REMOVE that clause. Thus, if a religious employer finds that an employee is obtaining and using contraceptives from another source, that employee MAY BE discriminated against.
      I think the conclusion that “Employers can fire women who use birth control” is a little inflammatory, but it’s not far from the truth.
      I think the proposed law means that if a church employs a woman who uses birth control, and the basic tenets of the church forbid using contraception, then the church could discriminate against that employee. Or fire them, I suppose.
      Personally, I would never work for a church that believed that using contraception is a sin.

      • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2012 at 11:43 amReplyAuthor

        This proposed bill applies to ALL Arizona employers, not just church-related ones!

  7. Guido lebowskiMarch 14, 2012 at 10:39 pmReply

    Please people, don’t give into this nonsense. What is being said is that the law doesn’t have an anti-discrimination clause. That doesn’t mean your boss can fire you for using contraception. The fact is that federal HIPPA laws keep your health records private so no one has access to your prescription history. I am for birth control and contraception, but I get annoyed at sites like this that twist things to such an outrageous degree for political purposes. This is just irresponsible. If you support birth control, say so, but don’t twist a story into something it’s not …we’re all smarter than that

    • Lynda in Santa CruzMarch 15, 2012 at 4:51 amReply

      We are concerned about the doors that this legislation is opening. Have you read the actual bill? For example, the new wording requires “evidence” from ladies who use prescription birth control meds for medical reasons other than birth control. This is to be submitted to the employer, not to the insurance company. Only if the employer accepts the “evidence” as valid with the cost of the prescription be reimbursed.

      The actual wording is here:

      “A corporation, employer, sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan may state religious beliefs or moral convictions in its affidavit that require the subscriber to first pay for the prescription and then submit a claim to the corporation along with evidence that the prescription is not in whole or in part for a purpose covered by the objection. A corporation may charge an administrative fee for handling these claims.”

      It is not an employer’s business to know what medications an employee takes, and why. This information is private, and is covered by the Federal HIPPA laws. If this is allowed, it OPENS THE DOOR for more invasion, and more discrimination. It’s a door thinking people do not want to see opened, so yes, we are outraged by where this could lead.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2012 at 7:18 amReplyAuthor

      No anti-discrimination clause= discrimination is permissible. Is denying employment, or terminating it, not a form of discrimination? This story is not “nonsense” or “twisted.” In fact, my primary source was the Arizona Republic, the state’s newspaper of record, which used the word “FIRE” in its headline. The Arizona Republic is hardly a liberal publication. So…

  8. ElrodMarch 15, 2012 at 6:55 amReply

    Arizona is unfit for self-government. It should be returned to territory status and ruled directly by Washington. Its legislators should be arrested by Federal marshals and either deported to Mexico or sold as slaves to Barnum and Bailey’s circus. The mutant-legislators could then perform for interested audiences by standing inside a cage and barking, unironically, their deeply held “values” at bemused and horrified fair-goers. Think of it as a Renaissance Fayre gone bad… That would be an appropriate response to the failed 100-year experiment in Arizona statehood.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 15, 2012 at 7:16 amReplyAuthor

      The circus is boring and unimaginative compared to the clowns in Phoenix.

    • SeanMarch 15, 2012 at 8:30 pmReply

      Nice! I whole-heartedly agree. The legislators in AZ have got to be the most incompetent bunch of nincompoops I’ve heard of in a really long time.

  9. Robert BartonMarch 18, 2012 at 7:17 amReply

    Fire women or deny coverage? Isn’t it disingenuous to frame it as allowing employers to fire women, instead of saying what it actually says, deny coverage?

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 18, 2012 at 8:06 amReplyAuthor

      Again, the bill removes the current anti-discrimination clause. That means that employers would be free to discriminate, which includes denying or terminating employment. It doesn’t exactly say “fire,” but that’s exactly what COULD happen under the letter of the law.

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