Arizona So Going To Win This Birth Control Coverage Denial Contest
Arizona heard there was some serious crazy goin' around the country, some of that fun vagina-hatin' crazy, so they said to themselves, is someone doin' crazy better than Arizona these days? STEP ASIDE. *CRACKS KNUCKLES.* Only a pansy lawmaking body would seek merely to exempt any religious employer from the birth control coverage mandate. Major league insanity, on the other hand, is a bill like this one: any religious employer can also fire "an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.” BAM. (Now with update below!)
The bill, HB 2625, included the phrase, “A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.” But now it doesn't!
**UPDATE: Arizona ACLU Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham writes in to your Wonkette to clarify the deal with the anti-discrimination provision mentioned above. The provision was not first included as a protection and then struck from the text of the bill as we thought, but rather the anti-discrimination provision is currently part of Arizona law, and HB 2625 seeks to get rid of it:
Currently, Arizona law prevents religious employers from discriminating against women who obtain birth control on their own. HB 2625 eliminates both the definition of “religious employer” and the anti-discrimination provision from existing law. In other words, the only reason HB 2625 ever included the anti-discrimination provision was in order to strike it from Arizona’s laws. So it’s not that the bill originally offered up some anti-discrimination language that was eventually dropped. Rather, Arizona women currently have a legal right to be free from employment discrimination if they get birth control on their own, and this bill is trying to scrap that right altogether.
(In other words, it's even worse than we originally understood.)
From Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini:
The new law lets employers off the hook in terms of providing contraceptive services. If it also lets them off the hook in terms of discriminating against employees who purchase such things on their own doesn't that open up the possibility of discrimination or firing?
The ACLU's national office says that employers can now "claim" to be able to fire employees for using birth control. (Federal law may well supercede that.)
Arizona ACLU's [Anjali] Abraham told me, "I just wanted to be clear that it's the employer making that claim without getting into whether or not the employer has the right to do so (that may be a more complicated question.) Certainly, though, HB2625 removed an existing protection that would prevent an employer from firing a woman for getting birth control on her own, which is very troubling."
Oh man, this was such an easy one. Give Arizona a CHALLENGE next time you want them to out-crazy everyone else.
[Arizona Republic via Wonkette Operative "Phil R."]