An Arizona legislators believes that requiring religious employers to provide health insurance coverage for birth control is something a totalitarian regime would propose.


"We live in America. We don't live in the Soviet Union," Republican state Rep. Debbie Lesko told KTAR. "The government shouldn't be telling mom-and- pop employers and religious organizations to do something that's against the moral or religious beliefs. It's just not right."

Lesko is the author of legislation that would allow employers to opt out of providing health insurance coverage for birth control if they had religious objections. The bill is modeled on the Blunt amendment, which would have undermined new federal government rules requiring virtually all private insurance policies to cover female contraceptives.

The Blunt amendment was rejected by the U.S. Senate. But Lesko's bill passed the Arizona House on March 1. It is expected to be passed by the Republican-led Arizona Senate as well.

Twenty-eight states, including Arizona, already have laws similar to the new federal contraception coverage rule. Arizona also requires coverage of related outpatient services.

Arizona and three other states exempt churches and church associations from being required to provide coverage for contraception. Seven states of the 28 states have a broader exemption that includes religious schools and eight states have an even broader exception that includes religious hospitals as well, according to the Guttermacher Institute (PDF).

[Woman holding birth control pills via Shutterstock]