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Re-Vote Planned After Ariz. Senate Rejects Contraceptive Coverage Bill; 20-Week Abortion Ban Advances

Re-Vote Planned After Ariz. Senate Rejects Contraceptive Coverage Bill; 20-Week Abortion Ban Advances

March 30, 2012 — The Arizona Senate will re-vote on a measure (HB 2625) that would allow employers to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage for moral or religious reasons, the AP/NECN reports (AP/NECN, 3/29).

On Wednesday, senators voted 17-13 to reject an amended version of the bill (AP/Washington Post, 3/28). On Thursday, Sen. Nancy Barto (R) successfully motioned for the chamber to hold a new vote, which could be scheduled any time before the session ends next month (AP/NECN, 3/29).

The bill would require employers to cover birth control for non-contraceptive purposes. In these cases, the measure would allow an employer's health plan to require that woman provide proof that they have a non-contraceptive medical need, according to the AP/Washington Post.

Supporters altered the bill in an attempt to appease critics who charged that it would force women to disclose private health information to their employers. The amended version specifies that employers would not be authorized to receive the information and that federal health privacy laws would apply (AP/Washington Post, 3/28).

Barto Seeks More Support

In the original vote, seven Republicans joined all nine Democrats in opposing the bill. Barto would need to change at least two votes for the bill to move forward, according to the Arizona Republic. It would then go back to the House before heading to Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who has some reservations about it, according to a spokesperson.

Republicans offered various explanations for voting against the bill, which has drawn national attention. Sen. Jerry Lewis (R) said he was worried about the rights of employees who want contraceptive coverage, while Sen. Michele Reagan (R) expressed concerned about requiring women to ask their insurance companies for reimbursement if they need birth control for non-contraceptive reasons (Beard Rau/Pitzl, Arizona Republic, 3/29).

Senate Advances Bill To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 20-10 to approve a bill (HB 2036) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, except in medical emergencies, Reuters reports.

The bill also would direct the state to create a website showing various stages of fetal development and describing risks of abortion. In addition, the bill would require that women have an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, an increase from the state's current one-hour prior requirement.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kimberly Yee (R), said she has lined up enough votes in the House to pass the bill and send it to Brewer. The governor has not indicated whether she would sign the measure (Schwartz, Reuters, 3/28).