The Arizona Senate voted Thursday to reconsider the controversial contraception bill, a day after House Bill 2625 was defeated in a 17-13 vote.
The Senate will hold another vote on the bill that could mean women would lose health-care coverage for birth control if their employer believes it is wrong for religious or moral reasons.
Scottsdale Sen. Nancy Barto made the motion for a revote. With the measure being approved, the Senate can now vote on the bill any time before the end of the current legislative session.
The current session is expected to close some time in April.
In the first vote, Senators voted against the bill primarily because of privacy concerns for females.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 12 in a 6-2 vote, with the bill’s sponsor speaking at the hearing.
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, said, “This bill restores religious liberty to the State of Arizona. Basically, the bill says Arizona employers can opt out of the contraception mandate if they have a religious objection. I believe that we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union, and so government shouldn’t be telling employers, Catholic organizations, or mom and pop organizations to do something that is against their moral beliefs.”
Speaking out against the bill during the March 12 hearing was Anjali Abraham, the public policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
“The ACLU strongly supports individual religious beliefs,” she said. “But this bill by amending the existing law to allow any employer to expand religious or non-religious beliefs to deny contraceptive coverage for moral reasons goes beyond a person’s right to practice their faith. It lets employers prioritize their beliefs over their employees. And in this case, over their female employees.”
Abraham said privacy issues are an issue with the bill. If passed, this bill would require a woman to discuss her personal medical issues with her employer.
Lastly, Abraham said this bill would also prevent a woman from getting contraception on her own for fear of being fired.
Gov. Jan Brewer has voiced some concerns over the bill, and Arizona Sen. John McCain has said if it is passed by the Senate, it should be vetoed.