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New Bill Threatens to Demolish Arizona Women’s Right to Privacy

Written by Jenna Lee Dillon on March 15, 2012

Information that women in Arizona may have to disclose to their employers in the future:

  • Were you ever convicted of a felony?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • Do you take prescription birth control? If so why?

If the third item raised serious red flags for you, then you will likely take major issue with House Bill 2625. Proposed by Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko and approved by the Arizona House, the bill now awaits Senate approval.

Bill 2625 aims to grant employers in Arizona the right to deny birth control coverage for employees based on religious beliefs. This means employers who do not believe in the use of birth control can refuse to supply insurance that covers it. If an employee takes hormonal birth control for a health-related reason but not to prevent pregnancy, then she must submit proof of the condition to her employer in order to receive coverage.

Employers have no right to the private medical information of employees, especially such information that does not affect an employee’s ability to perform the duties of her job. Yet this bill would grant them access to private details of female employees’ medical background on the basis of the employer’s religious beliefs.

Limiting Job Opportunities in a Difficult Job Market

Currently, only religious organizations in Arizona are allowed to deny birth control coverage. However, in an already strained job market, Bill 2625 could further narrow a woman’s potential career pool.

Would employers be required to state during the interview process that the health plan would not cover birth control? Or could a woman be hired without knowledge of the lacking healthcare plan? If so, she would then be forced to either stay with the company and do without or return to the less-than-promising search for employment? Critics of the bill also worry that employers in Arizona, a right to work state, would fire employees who could not verify that the contraceptive use was for medical purposes.

Inane Comment from Bill Supporter Rep. Lesko

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Rep. Lesko said, proclaiming her support for the bill. She claims the bill is “about the first amendment.”

The irony of a bill that claims to protect the right to religious freedom by denying the right to medical privacy and freedom would be comical, if it wasn’t real life.

March 27 Update:

Although the political climate in Arizona remains frightfully intent on turning women’s health issues into religious debates, HB 2625 was shot down by the Arizona Senate in a woefully close 13-17 vote. For more information, follow this link: http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/2012/03/27/20120327legislature-takes-up-controversial-contraception-bill.html

Discussion

There is one response to “New Bill Threatens to Demolish Arizona Women’s Right to Privacy

  1. Well-said, T.Rae. Thank you for your comment.

    The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Employers are free to “exercise” (definition: the use or application of a faculty, right or process) their religious beliefs in their own lives. However, the first amendment does not state that anyone has the right to force others to exercise their religious beliefs. Bill 2625 would give them the ability to do that.

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