A proposed law in Arizona could give employers the right to fire women who use birth control. The bill, which sailed right through the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, grants employers the right to ask for proof that contraceptives are being taken for non-contraceptive reasons.
Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
Arizona, like nearly half the rest of the country, is an at-will employment state. “At will” simply means that an employee can be fired without cause. Not only would the bill grant employers the right to pry into a woman’s (and only a woman’s) medical history, it would give them opportunity to fire women for simply having a sex life. Imagine this conversation:
EMPLOYER: Um, Lisa, I see here that you have a prescription for a birth control pill.
EMPLOYER: That’s right, a birth control pill. Why are you on birth control pills?
LISA: Excuse me?
EMPLOYER: Why are you on birth control?
LISA: I’m sorry, sir, but that’s personal.
EMPLOYER: No, it’s not. I believe that birth control is a sin and I’ll need to see proof that you aren’t using it so you can have unlimited sex.
EMPLOYER: Lisa, you seem rather tongue tied on the subject. Should I take that to mean that you, an unmarried woman, are using birth control only for sex?
LISA (red-faced and nearly in tears): But…I get really bad cramps. That’s why the doctor gave them to me. Plus, I don’t want to get pregnant.
EMPLOYER: So you’re admitting you have sex.
LISA: No…no. I’m not admitting anything. Isn’t that my business?
EMPLOYER: No. I need to know that I am not paying for sin. I need proof that you are using birth control for non-sexual purposes. Take the rest of the day off and go to your doctor. You can come back when you have a note from him saying that the pills aren’t for sex.
LISA: But it comes out of my insurance. I pay for that out of every paycheck.
EMPLOYER: You only pay for half the insurance. I pay for the other half. I need to make sure that you aren’t violating my First Amendment rights.
Shaking and in tears, Lisa leaves for her doctor. The doctor, also a Catholic, (the largest religious bloc) refuses to write the note. Lisa is never allowed to return to work.
Arizona currently has a law on the books prohibiting insurance companies from this sort of discrimination. HB 2625, if passed, could supersede that law by allowing the employer, and not the insurance company, to discriminate. I am not the only person raising concerns that women could lose their jobs. So is the ACLU.
The original version of the bill, on page 26, made it illegal for an employer to discriminate against women who purchased their own contraception, without employer health coverage. That protection was removed, presumably making it just fine for an employer to fire a woman for simply having pills in her purse.
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