Thursday, August 02, 2012

UPDATE: Arizona Democrats defend women against attacks on right to privacy, health care

UPDATE: Arizona Democrats defend women against attacks on right to privacy, health care

 STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today marks a major step back for women’s rights in Arizona as women across the state face dramatic changes and limits to their health care. This sad milestone in the Tea Party’s war against women comes as HB 2625 becomes law and others are set to follow.

HB 2625 allows businesses that qualify as religious employers to deny insurance coverage of women’s birth control if they disapprove of the way women are using the medication. Additionally, it removes from statute protections that would prevent a woman from being fired for using birth control as contraception.

“This law threatens a woman’s ability to make medical decisions and jeopardizes her ability to keep her job,” Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), said. “The extremists behind this law decided that it is their job to politicize women’s health. They argue that this is about the religious freedom of the employers, but that is misleading and manipulative. In reality, this is about privacy and access to health care.”

Under this law, any Arizona business can claim that it operates based on religious principals by filing a form with the Arizona Corporation Commission. This would qualify the business to deny insurance coverage for birth control medication.

“The backers of this bill claim it is tailored to only apply to groups like St. Vincent De Paul. The truth is, any business can qualify by simply changing its articles of incorporation,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson (District 29). “Under this law companies like Blackwater, Enron or even a strip club could take away contraception coverage for their employees. Being a woman in Arizona should not be a pre-existing condition and should not be a fire-able offense.”

Another example of the extremist agenda that Republicans are pursuing at the Capitol is HB 2800. This bill’s goal is to financially cripple vital women’s health care services provided by Planned Parenthood.

“Planned Parenthood is a critical health care provider for thousands of Arizona women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings,” said Sen. Lopez. “Tea Party legislators are set on limiting women’s access to health care and seek to insert themselves in decisions that should be made between Arizona women and their doctors.”

Designed to deny public funds going to medical facilities that provide family planning services, HB 2800 is currently being contested in court.

“Fortunately, a U.S. District Court has temporarily stopped the state from implementing this dangerous law,” Rep. Hobbs said. “Tea Party lawmakers’ support for this law makes no sense because HB 2800 clearly will limit health care choices in the state. Arizonans deserve leadership that is focused on moving the state forward, instead of pulling the state back.”

These laws raised concerns in the medical community. Dr. Marilyn Laughead is a local doctor of obstetrics and gynecology and has been in practice for more than 30 years. She is concerned with the potential ramifications of the legislation that limits women’s access to health care.

"No one benefits from laws that politicize women's health. Legislation like this is too far reaching. It interferes with the important relationship between medical doctors and their patients,” Laughead said. “Across the state it limits women's personal choices and vital health care options. This trend is ill-considered and dangerous. It verges on the Legislature practicing medicine."


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