Bill repeals Republican-backed Contraception law
PHOENIX–Planned Parenthood is deeply concerned that House Bill 2625, which allows employers to discriminate against employees who use birth control, is now headed to Governor Brewer.
Birth control use is nearly universal in the United States. Ninety nine percent of women use birth control. Proponents of this bill are aware of this statistic, along with the wide spread public opposition, which may be why the bill was not included on the published public agenda.
"At Planned Parenthood, we see everyday how important access to contraception is to women and we believe all women, regardless of where they work, should have health insurance that covers preventative care, including birth control," said Bryan Howard, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. "As health care providers, our highest priority is the health of our patients."
Yet supporters of this bill are special interest groups, including the Arizona Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's bishops, who are already exempted from state law requiring most employers to provide fair coverage of women's birth control prescriptions. If enacted, this law would broaden which employers can discriminate against employees, using religion as the basis for chipping away at women's access to birth control.
In effect, this bill from the far-right repeals Arizona's current contraceptive equity law, which was a Republican-backed proposal. State Rep. Linda Binder, a Republican lawmaker, formed a bipartisan coalition to push her bill, which exempted churches but not other church-affiliated institutions, through the Republican-controlled Legislature. Then-Governor Jane Hull, a Republican and a Catholic, signed the measure into law.
Women's health advocates across the nation have expressed outrage over the bill. As written, if the employer opts out for religious reasons, they can still fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy, employers still do not have to disclose that birth control is not covered, and women still have to traverse bureaucracy if they wish to be reimbursed for contraceptives used for another medical purpose other than birth control. It is important to note, today 58 percent of women using oral contraceptive pills use it for health reasons beyond family planning.
"For years, the importance of ensuring Arizona women's access to preventive health care, including birth control, was a bipartisan priority," Howard continued. "But, our current lawmakers have new priorities. House Bill 2625 is only the latest item in a number of bills to restrict women's access to preventive health care, taking personal medical decisions away from women and hand them over to politicians."
It is Planned Parenthood Arizona's hope that Governor Brewer will see that House Bill 2625 will do nothing but reduce access to family planning in Arizona, as well as allow discrimination in the workplace based on the reproductive health choices a woman makes for herself. Planned Parenthood calls on Governor Brewer to veto the legislation.
In the community for 78 years, Planned Parenthood Arizona is the leading sexual health organization in Arizona. The organization provides health care, education and outreach services to a total of more than 90,000 men, women, teens and parents annually. Planned Parenthood Arizona operates health center locations statewide in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma. For more information, please visit www.ppaz.org.
Cynde Cerf, Director of Communications and Marketing
April 25, 2012