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The Obama administration may have found a way around the outlandish policy that denies health insurance coverage for contraceptives because employers have a religious or moral objection, but similar and even more draconian bills are flying through Republican-dominated state legislatures. The GOP is all for small government—one that's small enough to drown in a bathtub, but big enough to fill up a uterus.

Here in Arizona, the nation's petrie dish of crazy, our 16th-century legislature passed a forced ultrasound bill last year; and of course the mother must see the image and hear the heartbeat (images from Clockwork Orange come to mind). The pea-brain peckerheads also mandated that abortions, including those induced by the RU-486 pill, could only be administered by a doctor—no nurse practitioners or physicians assistants. The bill even banned telemedicine, which previously allowed doctors in Phoenix and Tucson to assist nurses in Arizona's many outlying areas. The result last year was that every one of Planned Parenthood's rural clinics was forced to shut down.

This year the scumlords are back at it—focused like a laser on education and the economy. Not! Hoping that doctors will withhold information from parents about a deformed fetus or other prenatal irregularity, the Senate has already passed a bill that would shield doctors from "wrongful birth" lawsuits:

Those are lawsuits that can arise if physicians don't inform pregnant women of prenatal problems that could lead to the decision to have an abortion. Arizona Capitol Times
And naturally, the theocratic numbskulls at the legislature have their slimy little hands all over the contraceptive thing—and then some! A bill that has already passed the House and a Senate Committee provides an "out" for employers who do not want to cover birth control of any kind:
AN EVIDENCE OF COVERAGE DOES NOT FAIL TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUBSECTION A OF THIS SECTION IF THE EVIDENCE OF COVERAGE'S FAILURE TO PROVIDE COVERAGE OF SPECIFIC ITEMS OR SERVICES REQUIRED UNDER SUBSECTION A OF THIS SECTION IS BECAUSE PROVIDING OR PAYING FOR COVERAGE OF THE SPECIFIC ITEMS OR SERVICES IS CONTRARY TO THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE EMPLOYER, SPONSOR, ISSUER, HEALTH CARE SERVICES ORGANIZATION OR OTHER ENTITY OFFERING THE PLAN OR IS BECAUSE THE COVERAGE IS CONTRARY TO THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE PURCHASER OR BENEFICIARY OF THE COVERAGE. HB2626
But it's more than that. In his Arizona Republic column today, Ed Montini points out that the revised legislation omits a short but important section that was part of the original bill's language. Twice in the current bill, the one that's already passed the House, you'll see this sentence deleted near the end. Here's the way it appears in the bill now:
A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.
If you have trouble reading that, it used to say:
A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.
Got that? They removed language that said employers cannot discriminate against workers who use contraception, unless the employees can show proof they're only using birth control for medical reasons. As it stands, the current bill not only exempts employers from having to provide contraceptive coverage in their healthcare plan, it also removes protections for employees who seek their own birth control remedies elsewhere. What kind of protections? You name it: your job, promotions, raises, benefits, working conditions.
According to ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham, it means that an employer will be able to fire an employee if he finds out that she (or he?) is using contraception.

"I think this just goes to what we've been saying about the bill," she said. "It isn't really about guaranteeing an individual's religious liberty but ultimately is about eliminating access as much as possible to basic health services for women." Arizona Republic

How many times do we have to say this? Arizona's economy is in the shitter, education was cut a half-billion dollars last year, and 100,000 people were just kicked off the state's Medicaid program. And this is what they spend their time on: restrict, restrict, restrict access to birth control, and if we can't restrict it anymore, then let's threaten workers with losing their job.

Dickheads, and that's being kind.

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 02:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks, Abortion, Pro Choice, Sluts, Your Government at Work, State & Local ACTION Group, and Daily Kos.

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