In what could end up being a showdown with the federal government that would cost the taxpayers of Alabama millions of dollars in legal fees and the women of Alabama the right to make decisions about their own health, the general assembly has passed a bill allowing religious employers to deny their female employees contraception.
Alabama Republicans successfully pushed HB 108 through the House by a vote of 67-28. The bill allows employers to deny their female employees contraception based on religious grounds.
According to ALblog:
it would exempt “religiously affiliated or motivated employers” from providing contraceptive or abortion-inducing drugs or devices, either directly or through an insurance policy.
In other words, any employer can claim to be “religiously motivated” and be exempt from providing their female employees contraception. What’s more, the bill is also a huge violation of medical privacy. AI blog reports that Democrats “argued the bill unfairly targets women by excluding them from certain medical coverage while not impacting men and by forcing women to disclose personal medical information to their employers if the contraceptives are for purposes other than birth control.”
So not only does the bill violate personal privacy and doctor-patient privilege, it’s also sexist because it only targets women. The bill is also a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which the US Supreme Court declared constitutional last year. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses or business health insurers are mandated by the federal government to provide contraception to female employees. The Alabama House recently passed a bill that would restrict abortion in the state, and now Republicans are hell bent on making sure women can’t prevent pregnancy either.