A bill in Arizona, HB 2625, which would have allowed employers to question their employees about contraception use, and refuse to provide coverage for contraception, was voted down. But, there will be another vote on the bill because Republicans said they are still concerned about employers’ religious freedom. The bill as originally written would allow employers to fire their employees for using contraception for non-medical purposes – and further allow employers to question their employees on medical history, making the employees justify their use of contraception.
This bill has drawn somemediaattention for being clearly invasive. Senator John McCain of Arizona was direct in his disapproval of the bill. He suggested that Republicans “get off of that issue.” Maybe the Senator recognizes the danger in focusing on an aspect of the population’s lives that has become so vital and one that should remain a private decision.
The bill is another politicized attempt at bringing religious freedom into a debate – insinuating that the religious freedom of entities and people in positions of power (like pharmacists, employers and religious leaders) is more important than the freedoms (religious or otherwise) of other individuals.
Legislators would need two more “Yes” votes to pass this bill when it comes up for a vote again next.
However, that’s not the only anti-choice bill the Arizona legislature is considering. Perhaps because the Arizona legislature wants to prove it’s crazy, even though it voted down HB 2625, the Arizona Senate voted “Yes” on another bill that would require the state to host a website with photos of fetuses at different stages of development. And, even more problematic, the bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks.
A similar bill in Georgia, banning abortion after 20 weeks gestation, failed because Republicans were insistent that there be no exceptions. This means that women would even have to carry non-viable fetuses to term. This means that a woman would be forced to miscarry and deliver a still birth. Luckily it was clear the bill was infringing on women’s health and rights to an extreme extent. And in this clarity, it died. (This was the bill that a representative defended by arguing that since livestock like cattle carry stillborn fetuses to term, women should too.)
Arizona’s bill in comparison to Georgia’s seems to be squeaking by.
What is particularly awful about this bill is that is counts the beginning of pregnancy at the beginning of the woman’s last menstrual cycle. And, because the woman is unlikely to become pregnant until a week after menstruation ends, this means that the bill actually makes abortion illegal after approximately 18 weeks. This bill makes it perfectly evident how willing Republican leaders are to completely dismiss basic biology in their politicized attacks on women’s health and ignore women’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.
To make clear that these legislators mean business: the bill would make it a criminal act for doctors to perform abortions after 18 weeks – meaning their license could be revoked among other penalties
While Arizona is still among states that are backing off of some legislation that restricts women’s access to reproductive health care, they are still pushing forward on these anti-choice bills.