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Arizona Wants to Boot|Contraceptive Coverage

PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona's Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday voted 6-2 to allow Arizona employers the right to deny employees coverage of contraceptive services.

House Bill 2625 would repeal a contraception-equity law passed in 2002, requiring every insurer that provides employees with prescription drug coverage to provide employees with contraception coverage.

The state House approved the bill on March 2.

"Elected officials are playing politics with women's health," ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham said in a statement.

"These efforts to take away existing protections for women's basic health services will ultimately hurt Arizona women and, by extension, Arizona families."

Under HB 2625, insurers may deny contraception coverage if contraception "is contrary to the religious beliefs of the employer, sponsor, issuer, insurer or other entity offering the plan or is because the coverage is contrary to the religious beliefs of the purchaser or beneficiary of the coverage."

The bill provides an exception for women who can prove they use contraception for reasons other than "contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion, or sterilization processes." Women who seek contraceptive coverage would be required "to first pay for the prescription and then submit a claim to the insurer along with evidence that the prescription is not in whole or in part for a purpose covered by the objection."

The bill was written by House Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, a Glendale Republican.

Lesko compared the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Obama administration's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to life "in the Soviet Union."

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