Arizona is taking the national debate over contraceptive use one step further by removing employee protections against discrimination based on their use of contraceptives. Arizona’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve HB 2625 which also allows employers to remove contraceptives from all health plans.
All an employer has to do is relay a statement that contraceptives infringe on that employer’s “religious beliefs or moral convictions” and the availability of the contraceptives will be removed from the health plan.
Apparently, the moral convictions of the employer outweigh the moral convictions of the employee. If this really is an issue of religious or moral conscience, then the right to use contraceptives should be as protected as the right to oppose them. HB 2625 shows that really isn’t the issue. It is blanketed as a religious and moral issue, but only for the employer.
The current law allows religious employers to opt out from providing contraceptives to employees, but forbids that employer from discriminating against employees who continue to use contraceptives. The proposed law expands that beyond religious employers to all employers and removed the protections against discrimination that currently exist.
HB 2625 proposes to remove the clause that reads:
A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.
The bill offers nothing to replace this language, which is essentially a guarantee that an employers private beliefs cannot be imposed on the lifestyle of an employee.
Technically, a non-religious employer could fire or nor hire an employee based on contraceptive use now. However, that action might up a Pandora’s Box of legal problems if that employer is offering health insurance, which now carries contraceptive coverage.
If HB 2625 becomes law, employers who are convinced that contraceptive use leads straight to hell or moral debauchery can deny its availability and prod into employees or prospective employees personal lives.
This bill opens the door to the sex lives of employees being under the control of an employer. Because HB 2625 focused on contraceptives that need a prescription, the burden of this law falls unfairly upon women. In this way, it is just another assault on the rights and health of women. It narrows the options on the right of privacy and family planning while continuing the dangerous trend of restricting individual choice.