On Monday, Arizona state Senate President Steve Pierce (R) announced that he is removing a bill from the Senate committee agenda that would give employers the right to refuse coverage for contraception under their insurance. Senator Pierce indicated that he removed the bill from the agenda due to public opposition and statements from Governor Jan Brewer (R) that she "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."
House Bill 2625 would have allowed employers to cite moral or religious reasons to exempt employees from birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The bill includes an exception for employees who can prove that they need contraception for a use other than pregnancy prevention, such as to treat endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. If passed, the bill would have required employees to pay out of pocket for contraception. They would have been eligible for reimbursement only after submitting medical records to their employer to prove medical necessity.
The bill also would have removed a provision in current state law that prohibits religious employers from discriminating against an employee who chooses to use contraceptives and pay for them out of pocket. The bill passed the Arizona House with a 39-18 vote.
Media Resources: National Partnership for Women and Families 3/20/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/16/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .