March 20, 2012 — Arizona Senate President Steve Pierce (R) on Monday removed a bill (HB 2625) from a Senate committee agenda that would require women seeking contraceptives to provide proof of a medical need if their employer does not cover the drugs for moral or religious reasons, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Davenport, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/19). Under the bill, any employer with moral or religious objections to contraception could refuse to cover it unless a woman provides "evidence that the prescription is not in whole or in part" to prevent pregnancy (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/15).
Pierce's spokesperson, Mike Philipsen, said the legislation was pulled because of opposition from the public and recent comments by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) that the bill might cause issues for women. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also recently expressed reservations about the bill, which he said would make Republicans look hostile toward women when they should be focusing on jobs and the economy (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/19).
On Friday, Brewer said she had not yet studied the bill but "certainly would probably agree with the majority of people that would be a little bit uncomfortable for a woman to have to go to her employer and tell him or her their private health issues" (AP/New York Times, 3/17).
According to the AP/Chronicle, the legislation is unclear on whether workers' health information would go to employers or just to their health plan. Although some provisions state that the information would go to the health plan, at least one indicates that the claim and evidence should be presented to the employer.
The bill's supporters said they are willing to amend the bill to ensure that the information is available only to health plans and not employers.
The bill has passed the House, which would have to approve it again if the Senate makes any changes (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/19).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.