Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Today's Weird News From The War on Contraception

This proposal (via Jezebel) will not pass but it's still worth scrutiny:
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.
Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the  Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
Lesko said this bill responds to a contraceptive mandate in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law March 2010.
“My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion,” Lesko said. “All my bill does is that an employer can opt out of the mandate if they have any religious objections.”

Two immediate thoughts came to my mind. First, this is the kind of mess we get when health insurance is provided through our bosses. A really bad system, on many, many levels. Second, what about Viagra? Will employers want to see proof that Viagra is not prescribed just so that someone can have more sexytime? What if it is prescribed to unmarried men? That goes against lots of religious rules.

My third thought was this: Could something like this be limited to only contraception? That is unlikely, which means that any employer could scrutinize any employees' medical histories to determine if some treatment might go against the employer's private moral beliefs.

That sounds pretty totalitarian to me. It would also offer a wonderful profit-enhancing opportunity to all firms who are willing to convert to Christian Scientists!

My fourth thought was that this whole debacle tells us much about the freedom and rights of firms but pretty much nothing about the freedom or rights of workers. Which is, of course, business as usual.