Activism, Protests & Rights

An Open Letter to AZ Rep. Debbie Lesko RE: HB 2625

To: Debbie Lesko, Majority Whip
House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington
Room 222
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone Number: (602) 926-5413
Fax Number: (602) 417-3109
Email Address: dlesko@azleg.gov

From: A US-born, free citizen of the United States who is gravely concerned about your support of our First Amendment Rights as well as Women’s Rights

As you are well aware of, Ms. Lesko, you and your HB 2625 have flooded the media these past few days. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens who are opposed to your bill for several reasons, and I am one of them. Although obviously the majority of those, like myself, who oppose your bill are not residents of Arizona, we are all witnessing a trend of similar bills which either focus on birth control or abortion – all being introduced by members of your party. It is almost as if some “higher power” flipped on a “GOP Insane Switch” causing every elected official of the Republican Party to focus on destroying women’s rights as well as forcing the party’s conservative religious beliefs upon all people, regardless of a citizens own personal beliefs.

I watched your interview with CNN that aired this morning, Friday, March 16th, 2012, and your reasoning behind the HB 2625 I found to be completely irrational. To better understand what type of synapses is occurring inside your head, I did a bit of research including the bills you have sponsored as well as some other information you provided on your website. In doing so, I have also found that your HB 2625 is contradictory to another bill you sponsored last year – which I will get to momentarily. Briefly, though, just so you understand a bit more about me, I do have two college degrees as well as being an active member of the Mensa Society. You may safely assume that my education and intelligence is well above the norm.

Will you ever read this, Debbie? I seriously doubt it. Between the small amount of recent news coverage combined with some of your political facts available on the internet, I am finding that you lean towards the selfish, closed-minded, narcissistic-type personality with little to no concern of those people whose values and opinions differ from your own. Truthfully, though, whether you read this letter or not really is of little importance to me. You are who you are which is the type of person that will never admit you may have been wrong or simply erred, so I have no desire to waste my time with a shallow, close-minded person as yourself. However….

…I am more concerned about your voters reading this.

Now, let’s dive into some of your statements you have made in defense of your bill. Unlike your frequent responses I heard you say on CNN of “That’s not right,” and “They’re simply wrong,” but not providing any facts to back up your defiance, I, on the other hand, WILL provide facts to back up my statements that prove errors in your rationale.

The first thing that struck me as to why this bill even came to be. In S.2092 – Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, it clearly states:

“Congress finds that…

“(3) the mandate’s exemption for ‘religious employers’ is unprecedented in Federal law and excludes thousands of religious organizations, including religiously affiliated charities, health care providers, and schools…”

This very clearly means that any religious organization or affiliations thereof are exempt from being required to cover birth control for their employees. So why your HB 2625 then? The answer lies much deeper within you as you are attempting to force your personal religious views upon the citizens of your state. Let me explain….

Also in the S.2092 – Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, it states:

“Congress finds that…

“(2) on August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate requiring individual and group health plans to cover sterilization and all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptives, including drugs that could be used to induce abortions;”

You do not like the section stating “including drugs that could be used to induce abortions.”

In reviewing the Arizona bills you have either been a prime-prime, prime, or co-sponsor of, there are at least five bills (HB2384, HB2416, HB2442, HB2443, and SB1246) about abortion, and each one of these bills are anti-abortion based. Additionally, abortion-related bills are the most common target in your long list of bills. You clearly oppose abortion, so it makes perfect sense that you would be opposed to the abortion pill.

I also found that you sponsored HB 2563 – Authorizing High School Elective Courses about the Bible. Therefore, it is natural to assume that you are a very religious person.

Now, in continuing down the path of deductive reasoning in determining the purpose of your bill, it is logical to reason that in your opposition to the Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, you want to allow ANY employer to deny their employees birth control coverage and are simply flat out lying that you created this bill for the purpose of religious organizations to opt out. You do not like the idea of the abortion pill, and in being a devout Christian that you are, you also may be morally opposed to birth control over all. Which is perfectly fine – for YOU and for your FAMILY. But it is NOT okay for you to force YOUR religious beliefs upon the citizens of your state.

You have stated, “My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion,” by saying, “HB 2625 allows Arizona employers to opt out of the contraceptive mandate if they have a religious or moral objection.”

Like stepping on a cockroach, you are completely squashing the First Amendment rights of all employees. ALL employees. The wording in your bill is as follows:

“…CONTRACT’S FAILURE TO PROVIDE COVERAGE OF SPECIFIC ITEMS OR SERVICES REQUIRED UNDER SUBSECTION Y OF THIS SECTION IS BECAUSE PROVIDING OR PAYING FOR COVERAGE OF THE SPECIFIC ITEMS OR SERVICES IS CONTRARY TO THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE EMPLOYER…”

It specifically states “religious beliefs of the employer.” It does NOT say “religious organizations.” Therefore, the specific words you have chosen allows ANY employer the ability to force THEIR religious beliefs upon any and all of their employees.

Please, explain to me – and don’t just say that I’m wrong like you did on CNN – EXPLAIN how any non-religion-based company will be able to force their religious beliefs upon their employees and NOT violate the employees First Amendment rights in doing so. Seriously, I would love to hear this explanation. My religious beliefs vary greatly from yours. I firmly believe in birth control, as well as being an atheist. In what right would you have as my employer, for example, in forcing your beliefs upon me? I do not bring my atheism into your home or life, please do not bring your Christianity into mine. Same idea with abortion. I am not pro-abortion, but I am pro-choice. I do not believe life begins at conception and I abhor when any politician attempts to shove their “life begins at conception” belief down my throat. When life actually begins is a personal interpretation depending upon whether you favor religion or favor science. For many like myself, science IS my religion.

Ms. Lesko, you are showing that you are completely unable to separate your beliefs from your job, and any politician will then become a very dangerous entity to the rights of the citizens of our country. I also feel confident that your reasoning lies much deeper than your religious beliefs and disdain for abortion. I firmly believe – but cannot show proof – that you created this bill for personal selfish and hateful reasons against both Obama and the Democratic Party. You are not the first to do this. Mitch McConnell made this perfectly clear by stating that the top priority is to see that Obama is a one-term president. Now that many Republicans are now admitting to yourselves that your presidential candidacy choices are nothing more than a comedy of errors, you are quietly admitting that Obama has a very good chance of moving on to a second term. What is there left to do now? Stir up shit. Plain and simple. Stir up shit. Regardless of how many people you hurt in your state and in our country, your primarily goal now is to challenge Obama, his administration and all Democrats any and all opportunities they are providing our country to move forward.

Frankly, I am tired of being your martyr, as are the majority of people in this country.

Another view that utterly has me amazed about your bill is the complete lack of common sense. You show no forethought, nor the ability to “think outside the box.” The cost of any insurance company to provide birth control for any employee is minimal. Any insurance company may choose to deny coverage of certain name brand prescriptions – we see this all the time. Luckily, there are many very, VERY inexpensive brands of birth control available today. The cost of preventative care using birth control far outweighs the cost incurred from accidental and unwanted pregnancies. We are talking millions of dollars annually. This alone should be making every politician, employer and tax payer jump up and down and do back flips. Imagine…  for one, lowering the cost of Medicaid that goes towards covering unwanted and uninsured pregnancies.

Just imagine….

As opposed to abortion as much as you are, by providing birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies – the fewer pregnancies, the fewer abortions.

Just imagine….

You would cut off your nose to spite your face.

Earlier in this letter I mentioned that this bill is contradictory to one of your previous bills. I found a bill you co-sponsored, the HCR2014 – “Healthcare Freedom Bill” which allows AZ citizens the right to choose their physician and healthcare plan, no matter what the federal government imposes. If you co-sponsored such a bill, then why are you now sponsoring a bill which is completely opposite to the HCR 2014? Clearly HB 2625 will NOT allow any citizen to choose their healthcare plan, but in turn, allows a citizens employer to choose the employees healthcare plan. Again, your hatred for Democrats is showing.

Another bill you sponsored that I found was the SCR1059 – “Supporting Wisconsin Governor” Scott Walker. The bill specifically states, “That the Members of the Legislature express support for the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker….” What does this have to do with the HB 2625? Absolutely nothing. It just goes to show your character. You are supporting a politician in which the citizens of Wisconsin are now in the act of recalling.

There has been a lot of controversy that your bill violates the HIPAA Privacy Act Regulations. After reading the wording of your bill and the wording of the Privacy Act, I will admit this may be a bit far-fetched only because you have carefully chosen the verbage in your bill so as to not violate HIPAA. If an employer denies birth control coverage due to their religious beliefs, then the employee has the OPTION to submit a claim, which does require providing private medical information. Again, the key point here is that this is a CHOICE the employee has. Personally, I find it highly unethical, but not illegal since it does come down to choice.

America versus the Soviet Union.

“We live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union. 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. It is unAmerican and violates the First Amendment right.”

Best way to tackle this is to actually look into birth control in the Soviet Union. Now, in actuality, data such as this about Russia is nearly impossible to find on the internet, so there is not much to work with here. However, I did find an article titled, “Abortion Remains Top Birth-Control Option In Russia,” on the website Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. In this article is explains that abortion is the number one means of birth control in Russia simply because most women are unable to pay for birth control.

In one sense you are right – we are not like Russia as abortion is most absolutely NOT our number one means of birth control, although many of your ill-informed party members spew forth lies to the contrary in attempts to brainwash their constituents. In the US, abortion is not our number one method of birth control. However, we are very much like the Soviet Union in the fact that many of the women in this country cannot pay for their birth control – and your bill will only cause this number to increase.

In regards to violating the First Amendment, this bill will support the First Amendment – for the employer only. Not the employees. When considering there are many more employees than employers, it goes without saying that the majority of people are being denied their First Amendment rights. Additionally, your bill alone is in complete violation to the First Amendment, which states ” The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion…” Let me emphasize, “…impeding the free exercise of religion….” By allowing any employers to force their personal religious beliefs upon their employees in the form of denying them birth control coverage, this is a blatant violation of the employees “free exercise of religion.” If an employee follows a faith which is not opposed to birth control, then the employers denying said birth control is forcing their personal beliefs upon their employees. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Lastly, you stated, “I’m a woman and I’m not going to do anything that hurts a woman.”

I find this extremely insulting. This bill will only hurt women. It serves absolutely NO benefit to women at all. None. Zero. Zilch. You have in your hands a bill from the Obama administration which will help women by requiring insurance to cover the cost of birth control, thus lowering pregnancies. How does not providing this service to women help them? It does not and there is no arguing that fact.

Well, the time has come to publish this letter. As I mentioned earlier, Debbie, I seriously doubt you will ever read this, which is probably for the better. You are the type of pitiful soul that will only become more extreme in your ignorant beliefs when you are shown that you have not made the wisest decision. It is much more important that your Arizona residents read this, share and decide to vote you out of office during your next re-election.

I just only hope you do not do too much more damage on the way….

.

March 18th, 2012: 

Post Script:  I very kindly AZ resident commented and provided me with a link about the ALEC convention in Phoenix, and now your actions make perfect sense. You are the ALEC Public Sector Chair, and easily influenced by the money via ALEC and the Koch Brothers. And as you stated during the convention, “Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States. At least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving in the legislature are ALEC members… Yay Arizona! Two-thirds of the Republican leadership in the Arizona House and Senate are ALEC members and the last three Arizona Senate presidents–including the current one–all served in ALEC roles.”

And you ended by shouting, “Way to go Arizona!” (Source: Inside ALEC: Naked Contempt for the Press and Public in Scottsdale)

Sad, it appears as though you have been bought out.

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48 replies »

  1. The tactics used by politicians to pass bad bills never ceases to amaze me. And don’t assume she won’t know about this post- politicians keep up with what’s being said about them on the web.

  2. Brilliant Michelle. Absolutely brilliant! Excellent job here of hammering home the truth to confront ignorance, religious bias, destructive partisan politics, and outright lies! But you are right when you say that Ms. Lesko will never read this, and even if she did, she would refuse to accept the facts presented, even though these facts as as clear as “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” Unless the way in which the sun rises and sets conflicts with the republican right wing social and religious conservative agenda… So the only real solution to the problems created by Ms. Lesko and all who are like her, is vote her and all her friends out of office!

  3. Brilliant, well said and your line…”the selfish, closed-minded, narcissistic-type personality” pretty much sums it up 😀

  4. I continue to be horrified by the caliber of people serving as elected representatives in this country. And horrified by the damage they can do while in office. Not the least of it is their belief that “freedom of religion” means they are free to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else. And in their willful ignorance of the law, they will not listen to or understand the objections of others.

    Nevertheless, nice try. I expect her office’s computers will spew out a selection of meaningless boilerplate in response to your letter.

  5. There must be Baptist Juice or LSD in the water supply in Arizona. That many nuts in such a relatively small space can’t just be a coincidence. Maybe it’s the 100 degree temperatures that cause them all to “see Jesus”. Man…do I miss the rational impact in Az. of Gabby Giffords….
    PKC

      • Nuh-uh!!! Not all of us drink from the same well. I’m fourth generation AZ (and in my sixties) and many of us think she is of buffoon mentality!! Believe me, we are here carrying on with logic and common sense, regardless of the idiocy promoters who walk among us! Unfortunately they do seem to move in masses. Wish us luck!

  6. Michelle, FUCKING GREAT! clear, well thought out, well reasoned, factual, logically presented…all the things these criminals hate and fear. send it to Move On…and i sure hope AZ will vote her and her ilk out. you go girrl. continue…

  7. Lesko is unfit for office. Holding office is public service and this means serving the public, helping them and meeting their needs. Not forcing their religious zealotry on the public.
    Not hurting people and making them suffer for the sake of meeting an uncontrolable and unquenchable urge to spread hate because of some extreme and ungodly evil like hate for the president. Her focus is not on helping people or passing laws to progress the country, find jobs or do good for the people. It is about pushing her unquenchable hate for the president because he is a democrat.
    Her other focus is helping out her ALEC buddies (she works with them as does Walker and other tea party governors and zealots in league with the Kochs).
    Ideology and pushing corporate greed at the expense of the people and helping to destroy the country and our government is what people like Lesko are about. Traitorous and treasonous.
    I have to wonder at Lesko and her Ilk. they pretend to be so religious but, they go against the teachings of God and Jesus. Didn’t they preach to help the poor and in need. To foresake greed and money changers and help those who are the least of these?
    You have to wonder what God and Jesus think of these people with their helping the destructive and greedy, pushing an agenda of hate, hurting people…
    At least we know one thing. What happens to Mean Girls when they grow up.
    They become republicans and tea party zealots.

    • Well said! Thanks so much for providing your thoughts. Yeah, I didn’t touch on ALEC. I know Walker is heavily involved with them, but was unsure about Lesko. She is completely unfit for office just like you said.

  8. You wrote: “It is almost as if some “higher power” flipped on a “GOP Insane Switch” causing every elected official of the Republican Party to focus on destroying women’s rights as well as forcing the party’s conservative religious beliefs upon all people, regardless of a citizens own personal beliefs.”

    Well, the higher power at work in my state, Arizona, is the Koch Bros.-sponsored ALEC. They’re the ones who ghost-write the insanity put forward by the Tea Party legislature, Governor Mad-Cow Brewer, and that criminally insane Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arizona’s leaders are NOT SMART ENOUGH to write their own bills. And get ready, other 49 states: ALEC is already in your state house, pushing bills like drug testing for welfare or unemployment recipients, photo ID for voters, birther bills, anything immigration-related, anything healthcare-related. Anything Democratic.

    From an article at http://www.truth-out.org/inside-alec-naked-contempt-press-and-public-scottsdale/1327347560 , Debbie Lesko explained her prostitution to ALEC.
    >>>By the time Arizona House Majority Whip and ALEC Public Sector Chair, Rep. Debbie Lesko, kicked off her remarks on the Novartis stage, several protesters had been placed under arrest and loaded into paddy wagons.
    “We have some critics–we saw a few of them outside–because a group recently wrote a large report criticizing ALEC,” said Lesko (“ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature,” by Common Cause and People for the American Way). “And so, what better way is there to explain Arizona’s involvement in ALEC by reading right from that very report?! So, here we go…”
    “‘Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States.'”
    Uproarious applause.
    “‘At least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving in the legislature are ALEC members….'”
    More uproarious applause.
    “Yay Arizona,” said Lesko. “Two-thirds of the Republican leadership in the Arizona House and Senate are ALEC members and the last three Arizona Senate presidents–including the current one–all served in ALEC roles.”

    It’s time to go behind insane-appearing legislators, and find who owns them: ALEC and Koch. And if there’s a connection, make it public and show the dirt for what it is. Get them un-elected or recalled.

    • Wow! Thanks for the info! Being mixed up with ALEC makes perfect sense. I cannot stand private prisons, and have been opposing and posting info about them in trying to explain to people who just don’t understand what’s going on (not much success – many still think that all prisoners are guilty and should be tossed away, and that our crime rate is what they’re told)…. anyway, I cannot stand ALEC, nor the Koch Bros. And the Koch’s do such a good job (i.e. payoffs or threats, I’m sure) at not being in the media much. So many people have never heard of them. Unless I’m around activists, whenever I mention the name Koch Brothers, most people give me a blank stare.

      • There’s another Republican female AZ legislator, Terri Proud from Tucson, who said this week that any woman who wants an abortion should be made to watch a graphic video of an abortion beforehand. This is Arizona’s climate of Republicanism: at least half, if not more, of the comments below the Facebook story were viciously in FAVOR of forcing a woman to watch such a video. A large proportion of the commenters were women. Here’s the story: http://bit.ly/GEWUFK

  9. As an Arizona resident I am embarrassed & horrified by this bill. Where does this end? What if an employer “morally” objects to psychiatry or traditional medicine? Additionally, the bill does not address vasectomies. I’m no doctor but I don’t think there is any reason fot a vasectomy other than to prevent pregnancy. I have written and emailed Ms. Lesko numerous times with absolutely no response. Voice messages to her 623-878-9761 have yielded no reply. I’ve communicated to her that once again Arizona is the laughing stock of the country due to inane & illegal bills being introduced & passed. The citizens of Arizona need to speak up by voting out these uneducated zealots.

    • That is it exactly. More and more citizens, in many states – Georgia is right up there with ya in AZ – and vote these fools out. They will not listen, they do not care. And where does it start! I know many people are opposed to chemotherapy – so then what’s to stop an employer from refusing to cover chemo for an employee with cancer? Same with the vasectomy as you mentioned. That IS birth control.

      Then there is viagra…. There have been some good bills coming out by pissed off female representatives that men must have prostate exams, see a video about the side effects, and so on. Of course those bills will never fly… it’s a good ol’ boys network.

  10. Just imagine if this bill included an exemption for coverage of E.D. medication unless the employee requesting the benefit provides a sworn affidavit to the employer that the medication will only be used to support intercourse with a lawfully married wife, and that it will not be used in conjunction with adultery, homosexual activity, masturbation, fellatio, or any other activity considered objectionable by the employer.

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