We are the 99%

May 15, 2012

What "Freedom" Means In Arizona

From The Explorer in Arizona:
Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2625 into law Friday. The legislation authorizes religiously-affiliated employers to deny contraceptive services from their employees' health insurance plans.

Despite opponents saying the bill would violate a woman's right to privacy, proponents say it will apply exclusively to those entities whose religious beliefs are central to their operating principles, and for whom providing coverage for contraception could pose a moral conflict or religious objection.
You'll note that the proponents' argument doesn't actually address whether the bill violates a woman's right to privacy.  Patience, my friends.

Here's what the Governor's office itself had to say about the bill:
Governor Jan Brewer today signed into law HB 2625, legislation that authorizes religiously-affiliated employers to exempt contraceptive services from their employees’ health insurance plans. The new law will apply exclusively to those entities whose religious beliefs are central to their operating principles, and for whom providing coverage for contraception could pose a moral conflict or religious objection.

“In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled,” said Governor Brewer. “Mandating that a religious institution provide a service in direct contradiction with its faith would represent an obvious encroachment upon the 1st Amendment.”

Currently, state law allows a narrow scope of nonprofit, faith-based institutions to opt out of contraceptive coverage, provided that the institution primarily employs and serves individuals who share the religious tenets of the institution.
See? It's about freedom!  There's nothing about any "violation of privacy" in there!  It's just protecting the rights of any "religiously affiliated employer" to hold true to their beliefs!

What are these ladies complaining about?  It's so unseemly, isn't it?

Perhaps it's this part of the legislation:
Notwithstanding subsection y of this section, a religiously affiliated employer may require that the corporation provide a contract without coverage for specific items or services required under subsection Y of this section because providing or paying for coverage of the specific items or services is contrary to the religious beliefs of the religiously affiliated employer offering the plan. If a religiously affiliated employer objects to providing coverage for specific items or services required under subsection Y of this section, a written affidavit shall be filed with the corporation stating the objection. On receipt of the affidavit, the corporation shall issue to the religiously affiliated employer a contract that excludes coverage for specific items or services required under subsection Y of this section. The corporation shall retain the affidavit for the duration of the contract and any renewals of the contract. This subsection shall not exclude coverage for prescription contraceptive methods ordered by a health care provider with prescriptive authority for medical indications other than for contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion or sterilization purposes. A religiously affiliated employer offering the plan may state religious beliefs in its affidavit and may require the subscriber to first pay for the prescription and then submit a claim to the hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or hospital, medical, dental and optometric service corporation along with evidence that the prescription is not for a purpose covered by the objection. A hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or hospital, medical, dental and optometric service corporation may charge an administrative fee for handling these claims.

AA. Subsection Z of this section does not authorize a religiously affiliated employer to obtain an employee's protected health information or to violate the health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 (P.L. 104‑191; 110 Stat. 1936) or any federal regulations adopted pursuant to that act. [emphasis added.]
So the law allows for insurers to cover contraceptives, as long as they're not used for contraceptive purposes.  And it's up to a woman who may be suffering from, say, polycystic ovary syndrome to prove that she's not a slut who's using the pill to keep from getting pregnant.  And even then, she may be charged "an administrative fee" for providing such proof.

All to insulate a religiously affiliated employer from following the law like everyone else.  As Justice Scalia wrote:
Subsequent decisions have consistently held that the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a "valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).
But I guess that all changes when it comes to controlling the vaginas.

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