My state cannot keep itself out of controversy. And now it’s debating a bill so damn stupid that I’ve been seeing red since last night. I read about AZ House Bill 2625. You can read it here or watch it here or have the joy of reading the bill itself here, and if you want to be really pissed off, you can read this editorial here.
Basically if this bill becomes law, it allows any and all employers to deny an employee’s birth control coverage if the employer has a religious or moral objection. If the employee wants birth control for something other than to stop conception, she would need to bring a note from the doctor to state the medical reason for the birth control. I’m so angry right now that I don’t know where to begin to argue against this bill. So instead of writing an incoherent letter to the editor, I figured I’d start here.
First off, employers do NOT pay for birth control. They may pay for part of the health insurance. The employee pays for the health insurance. The employee pays for the birth control. While the Obama administration is trying to make birth control pills covered by insurance companies, most employees still have to pay for that insurance. So, I fail to see why the employer has a say on insurance coverage, if the employee has to pay for it.
Second, Debbie Lesko, State House of Representative, introduced the bill, saying, ”We live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union. The government shouldn’t be telling mom-and- pop employers and religious organizations to do something that’s against the moral or religious beliefs. It’s just not right.” No, Rep Lesko, what you’re proposing is a theocracy that puts a person’s religious beliefs above another’s civil liberties. Here in the US, we were founded and believe in a separation of church and state, which means, not only are we protected to practice as we see fit, but we are protected from other people’s beliefs. State Senator Linda Lopez said it better with this, “If it were truly about religious freedom, we would allow Christian scientists and Jehovah Witnesses to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employers. Religious freedom means I get to choose whether or not to be religious and if so, how.”
Third, it is no one’s business as to why a woman takes birth control pills. Not her family’s, not her friend’s, not the government’s, and absolutely not her employer’s. The right is worried about “a nanny state” and then proposes this kind of legislation. If women have to “prove” why they are taking birth control, then what’s to stop other people needing to prove their illnesses. Are we heading to a world where people will need a doctor’s note for every sick day? Are we going to demand proof for other medications that treat allergies, depression, diabetes? ALL people have a right to their own private personal lives and medical histories.
Fourth, what constitutes a religious or moral belief? What keeps employers from abusing this law and opting for cheaper insurance coverages that have no birth control? Shouldn’t the employer prove how religious he or she is? I want to know their religion, if they tithe correctly, if they follow all the rules of the religion. Failing these things, they shouldn’t be able to impose their beliefs on other people. Oh, that’s right. They shouldn’t impose their religious beliefs on any one. I also propose that businesses have to disclose to all potential employees that they will not be offering birth control coverage, so that potential employees can withdraw their applications. (Not that will happen with jobs as scarce as they are today.)
Fifth, why are we arguing about this? (I can’t find the article that I read last night about this. I don’t have the time to retrace my steps. I’m, as Jon Stewart calls it, part of the busy majority. I’ll look for it.) Back in 2002, Arizona passed a bill stating that all employers were required to offer birth control coverage as part of their health insurance coverages. Not that they had to pay for it, just that it had to be part of the benefits. In the last ten years, there has not been ONE SINGLE COMPLAINT. That’s right. Not one complaint. No one has said this law infringed on his/her religious views. No one has cried at the outrage of it all. Not one person has written, called, email, gone to the press, got a lawyer to say that this law destroyed his/her religious freedom. I don’t even understand why any one would write a bill for no one.
I’m angry enough that I emailed all 30 state senators last night as well as the governor. The plan was to call all of them today, but I have kids, so I’ll have to do it in batches. I plan to keep emailing and calling these senators. I don’t understand why there is this backlash against women. That’s what it feels like. A war on women. No one is talking about taking away men’s birth control. Everyone is talking about taking away women’s. They’re talking about mandatory waiting periods for abortions as though women haven’t agonized for hours, days, weeks before coming to a conclusion they didn’t want. They’re making laws to force women to do intravaginal ultrasounds before abortions. I have had the “pleasant” experience of one of these. They’re not fun to say the least, and I dealt with the pain because I was scared over the failure to find a heartbeat. They’re talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, which is where millions of women get their healthcare because it’s affordable. My state wants to make it legal for doctors to withhold information about embryos and fetuses if the doctor feels the woman would abort if there was something wrong with the embryo or fetus. I heard a rumor that my own state is debating a bill to have schools teach abortion is bad. (Duh.) If schools are going to start teaching morality, let’s start with the basics of lying, cheating, stealing, and hurting people.
I understand the fight to end abortions. No one wants more abortions or any that are not medically necessary. But this is all the wrong way to go about it. If people want to end abortions, then there needs to be easy access to free birth control. Adoption needs to be made simpler. Women’s Centers shouldn’t be shaming and guilting women into keeping babies; they should be helping these women with healthcare needs, employment needs, personal needs, baby needs. People, who want to lie and shame women into keeping babies, should put their money where their mouths are. Those people better be ready with resources to help those women, those families, such as babysitters, therapists, affordable daycare and whatever else is needed to help these families strive. States should have six months maternity leave. These are the things that will make abortion numbers drop like a rock.
I know I was all over the place with this post. I usually don’t get on a soapbox. I try not to judge. I like to believe that people are making the right decisions for themselves. I want politics to be used for making the world a better place for everyone. Tune in tomorrow when I’ll be back to my usual self. Hopefully I’ll be funny too.