Activism, Protests & Rights

AZ Rep. Debbie Lesko (R) Defending Her HB2625 Allowing Employers to Opt Out of Birth Control Coverage

Here is a letter written by Debbie Lesko which was published in the Daily News-Sun. In this letter she is defending her House Bill 2625 which allows any employer to opt out of birth control coverage based upon their religious beliefs.

My comments are given in the quotation boxes. I am also providing her letter in it’s entirety once again but without my comments. Then you may read it straight through if you wish. This insanity needs to stop. Debbie Lesko is refusing to see the true damage this bill will cause and is now merely throwing hissy-fits (as in crashing a Democratic new conference) because so many people are opposed to this bill. And for very good reason. It clearly violates the First Amendment rights of the citizens and employees who reside with the state of Arizona.


My legislation to protect our First Amendment rights does one thing and one thing alone: It allows an employer to opt out of the current government mandate that forces them to include the morning after pill and contraceptives in their employee’s insurance benefits, if and only if, the employer has a religious objection. The current mandate, which has been highlighted by the Obama administration’s actions, forces employers to include the morning after pill and contraceptives in their insurance benefits even if it violates the employer’s religious beliefs.

Ah, yes. The morning pill. You clearly are opposed to abortion, which I have outlined in my open letter I wrote to you. Therefore, you are clearly forcing YOUR religious beliefs upon the citizens of your state. Did you place your hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution? Or did you place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible? Sounds like the latter to me.

Employers should not be forced by the government to do something against their religious beliefs. That violates their First Amendment rights.

Violates the employers First Amendment rights? What about the First Amendment rights of the employees? This bill clearly violates all employees rights by allowing their employer to decide what type of health insurance coverage their employee may based upon the employers religious beliefs. Ones religious beliefs must clearly remain ones own. By not providing this bill, the employer still has their own right to follow their own religious beliefs for their own personal self and family. No employer should ever be allowed to force their religious beliefs on anyone else – especially people who work for them.

My legislation does not authorize employers to ask or know about their employee’s contraceptive use, and it does not authorize employers to fire anyone for that use.

Your bill states, “”…subscriber… [to] submit a claim to the corporation along with evidence that the prescription is not in whole or in part for a purpose covered by the objection…” Does this not state that an employer must submit to their employer evidence – which would be medical records – in which the doctor states the medical reasons to take birth control? That’s what I read as do many others including professionals of law. Clearly a violation of HIPAA.

The Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations support my legislation. Under it, employers like St. Vincent De Paul, a Catholic-based charity, would be able to opt out of the mandate. Since the legislation was written with the help of a national legal organization that fights for religious freedoms, I believe it will withstand legal tests.

This is already taken card of by Obama in his S.2092 – Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, You do not need to do so for the Catholic Churches. Therefore, you are doing this for personal reasons – which is not what you are in office to do . You are there to represent the citizens, not force your personal beliefs unto others in the form of bills and laws.

Ironically, most of the controversy surrounding my legislation revolves around language already in Arizona law for 10 years — language that I did not even introduce. Current law allows a woman who works for a church that has opted out of the mandate to have the medicine paid for if the woman uses it for a purpose other than birth control. The insurance company, not the employer, knows that information. The key is that I didn’t introduce that language in my bill. It is already in law and it will still be in law whether my legislation passes or not.

If you already have a bill in place which allows churches to opt out, then why this bill? Seriously… why? Oh, yes, I already answered that. You use the guise of creating a new bill by stating the purpose is to allow churches to opt out of coverage, when in reality, you want to allow any employer to opt out. Sneaky little devil.

I am not Catholic, and I do not have a moral objection to the use of contraceptives, but I do respect the right of those religious employers that do.

Again (oh, this is getting so redundant)… what about the rights of the employees????

Since I am a woman, I would never create legislation that takes away women’s rights. Women who work for religious employers will still be able to obtain medication somewhere else. Since Walmart sells it for $9/month, the cost may even be cheaper than the insurance co-pay itself.

This IS taking away the rights of all employee to receive insurance coverage for birth control. The cost is not a factor, and it is insulting you even brought that up. $9 a month for a very budget-tight family is a nights meal. If it is not that much in your book, then I suggest you pay for it for those who cannot afford the price themselves. Additionally, you are opening up a can of worms here. By allowing any employer to opt out of birth control due to their own religious beliefs, then this provides a foundation for any employer to opt out of covering any thing they may be opposed to, such as cancer treatment. There are many religious organizations which believe in the power of the “Word of God” and refuse medical treatment for cancer, leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other life-threatening or disabling diseases.

Thinking ahead is true wisdom, which you clearly are not doing. This bill is nothing more that a hate bill towards Obama and the Democratic party. A knee-jerk reaction which makes victims out of the citizens of your state.

If the government wasn’t forcing religious employers to do something against their religious beliefs, I wouldn’t be talking about this issue. But protecting our First Amendment right to freedom of religion is one of the most important things we can do. If we lose that, America’s future is truly lost.

Once again (oh, this really is getting very tiring), please see S.2092 – Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012.

It is unfortunate that some in the media are repeating distortions and untruths brought about by the opposition. I wish they would have called me or the lawyers that wrote it so they could report the truth. I guess that wouldn’t make a juicy story. Thank you to the media that are publishing my side of the story.

The media is not distorting the truths… you are. And I am happy to publish your side of the story so that I may dissect it and provide another point of view which represents a large amount of views from the people of Arizona. Basically, this allows me to put your lies out on the table for all to see, and hopefully you will not win your next re-election. And you really did not say anything different than what you did on CNN. You have memorized the script very well. Now, it is time for you to wake up, admit your bills has holes in it, and throw it out the window like dirty dish water.

House Majority Whip Debbie Lesko is the State Representative for LD 9.


Here is the once again in full, but with out my comments:

My legislation to protect our First Amendment rights does one thing and one thing alone: It allows an employer to opt out of the current government mandate that forces them to include the morning after pill and contraceptives in their employee’s insurance benefits, if and only if, the employer has a religious objection. The current mandate, which has been highlighted by the Obama administration’s actions, forces employers to include the morning after pill and contraceptives in their insurance benefits even if it violates the employer’s religious beliefs.

Employers should not be forced by the government to do something against their religious beliefs. That violates their First Amendment rights.

My legislation does not authorize employers to ask or know about their employee’s contraceptive use, and it does not authorize employers to fire anyone for that use.

The Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations support my legislation. Under it, employers like St. Vincent De Paul, a Catholic-based charity, would be able to opt out of the mandate. Since the legislation was written with the help of a national legal organization that fights for religious freedoms, I believe it will withstand legal tests.

Ironically, most of the controversy surrounding my legislation revolves around language already in Arizona law for 10 years — language that I did not even introduce. Current law allows a woman who works for a church that has opted out of the mandate to have the medicine paid for if the woman uses it for a purpose other than birth control. The insurance company, not the employer, knows that information. The key is that I didn’t introduce that language in my bill. It is already in law and it will still be in law whether my legislation passes or not.

I am not Catholic, and I do not have a moral objection to the use of contraceptives, but I do respect the right of those religious employers that do.

Since I am a woman, I would never create legislation that takes away women’s rights. Women who work for religious employers will still be able to obtain medication somewhere else. Since Walmart sells it for $9/month, the cost may even be cheaper than the insurance co-pay itself.

If the government wasn’t forcing religious employers to do something against their religious beliefs, I wouldn’t be talking about this issue. But protecting our First Amendment right to freedom of religion is one of the most important things we can do. If we lose that, America’s future is truly lost.

It is unfortunate that some in the media are repeating distortions and untruths brought about by the opposition. I wish they would have called me or the lawyers that wrote it so they could report the truth. I guess that wouldn’t make a juicy story. Thank you to the media that are publishing my side of the story.

House Majority Whip Debbie Lesko is the State Representative for LD 9.

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23 replies »

  1. Do you ever sleep? I guess it is about time to be getting up; even after a late night. As far as this bill goes, I can see a little of both sides. I think we have too much legislation in general, and I still am wishing for each state to get it’s own president…

    • I scheduled that to publish. I was still asleep in bed when that hit the internet waves. Personally, on this one I don’t see much of both sides. I typically do, but not here. Primarily because I am very adamant that anything having to do with religion must remain out of the law and gov’t.

      • I agree that the government should stay out of peoples business, but in order for that to happen, there can’t be legislation for or against birth control. Let the organizations decide. The companies/churches shouldn’t be forced to, but people should be able to have insurance that covers whatever. Really, I think this should be more of an insurance issue than a political one. If insurances had the final say of whether or not they will cover abortions, etc. Then employers could work with two or more insurance companies, and employees could have a choice as to which insurance would meet their needs. The competionwould be good for the prices too.

        • I watched an article on CNN yesterday in which a lot of research was put into reviewing what other countries have done for health insurance, the results, and the pro’s and con’s. I hope they have the story online so I can write about it. Was very very interesting. The two countries of interest are Thailand and Switzerland.

          Thailand had a horrible, bottom of the barrel, health care program. So just a few years back, they completely torn down the old system and rebuilt it. This time completely as gov’t ran. Similar to our Medicaid, but for everyone. So far it’s working well, the costs are low, people are able to get into the doctor quickly and receive the appropriate care. But the downfall is that doctors are under paid and over worked. They’ll work 12 hour shifts and make $14/hour – compared to our doc’s who make $100+ per hour. Although I feel our doctors are overpaid, I will say that $14/hour is way too low. Considering what they went through to be a doctor, and the value of their service to society. This system was only implemented about two years ago, so not much history yet to determine whether it will survive successfully or fail.

          In Switzerland, about 20 years ago, the President implemented a program which is identical to Obamacare – so I’m guessing that’s where Obama originated his plan. And after 20 years, the system is a smashing success. Everyone has health care. No need for referrals and waiting months (like I have) to see a specialist or have tests done. Out of pocket money is affordable. But the con to this system was that medical costs are still very high.

          But I will say the president who implemented this program did state that there really is no perfect plan. No matter what system is in place, there will be some downfalls. It’s just a matter of what is the lesser of the evils, I suppose. And this is very true. Part of our problem here in the US (outside of the war between the parties) is that no one will budge because any reform is not perfect. Nothing ever will be. We need to decide what’s in our countries best interest with the fewest and least evasive con’s and move forward with it. Oh, and the insurance companies in Switzerland have a cap as to how much profit they can make over any procedure. I love that idea!

        • I agree with you that there is no perfect plan. Regardless, it will be a battle, and even if everyone agreed on some system, there would be situations that would not work. The whole thing is a mess, and I don’t believe any of the politicians. Our whole government is broken, and I think we (as a nation) don’t have enough belief to pull it all together.

        • Too much animosity between the parties – and even with the people defending their properties. I’m clearly anti-republican. But if they offer a plan, bill, whatever that makes sense and is for the better, I’ll back it. I don’t care who creates it, just get it done, dammit!

    • every state having their own president? It’s been tried…it’s called Europe. As for the insanity of this bill, it opens the way for Employers of other religious persuasions to \, say, eliminate Christmas and Easter holidays because it infringes upon their religious beliefs. Let’s start another civil war and eject Arizons from the union.

      • LOL.. Arizona is becoming a modern day version of Texas from the past. Although Texas wanted to secede from the Union. I’m just about to that point to of wanting to eject Arizona.

      • The states having their own president is actually part of my plan to rule the world. I want to live in an rv and drive around stirring up controversy, and when the people get tired of all the stress, I plan on having some answer…I don’t know what answer that will be, but I’ll think of something. 😉

  2. Great post – aggravating to read, as it’s ridiculous that commentary is even required to defend women from other women, but there ya go. I’m sure you have already seen/heard about the other (female) Rep. from AZ, Terri Proud, who thinks that current legislative efforts in that state do not go far enough, and that women who want an abortion should be forced to watch one first. I did a post about her on my blog, and I have taken a good chunk of what I wrote there and sent it as a letter to her directly (minus the parts where I suggest that she STFU, of course; I reckoned that might be more of a blog-only thing). If you get the chance to stop by and read it, I’d love your thoughts on it. Basically, I am getting a bit worn out trying to keep on top of all the crazy out there – I mean, AZ alone is a full time job! – but it’s so important that women try to keep aware and involved, so I do appreciate your efforts in your blog. Keep fighting the good fight and I’ll keep reading! 🙂

    • LOL.. I actually have an article about this woman opened in a tab on my browser for a few days now. Just haven’t had a chance to read it thoroughly and post about it.

      Read your posting… it was great! I love the fact that you have so much common sense as well as forethought into these laws. So many of our state rep’s are just a bunch of fools – the “knee-jerk” react and simply do not think outside the box as to what results may happen by implementing such laws.

      The HB 2625 will definitely set a precedence to open up a whole new can of worms for employers to start denying whatever they want based upon their religious views. Very very unwise move.

      Oh, and I subbed your site. Love it!

  3. It’s really easy for women who have lived a life of comfort and even privilege to take such stands. But for them, there is no room for mistakes, for errors of judgement, for anything less than the perfection that they see in themselves.

    They make me wanna puke.

    • That is so very true. So many of our elected officials are completely out of touch with the reality of society. I almost think we need to put a restriction on who can run… if they grew up, like Mitt, with a platinum spoon in their mouth, then they cannot run for office. If they grew up at least in middle class and worked their way up, that’s fine with me.

      I’m sick and tired of the elite running this country. They have no clue as to what real life is about.

      • No kidding with the elite thing…democracies should not only be able to have some rich guy in office. I want someone who knows what it is like to go through the system. I have been on medicade and am on medicare now, and I know the good and bad of both. The people who have a chance of winning elections here are so out of touch with reality it is not even funny.

  4. So what about employers who don’t believe in medical care at all as a result of their religious beliefs? i.e. Menonites or Amish just to name a few. Does that mean that they also have the right to deny me or my loved ones any medical attention or prescription drugs because of their “religious beliefes”? And since when does religion get to trump medical care or is even any how related? This woman is shilling to fools and morons..which seems to be the new Republican “normal” this election year. What bullshit!
    PKC

    • Agreed. Religion HAS to stay out of the law – and we need to remove what has been turned into law. Morals and doing what is right (which has gray area, I know) needs to be the foundation of our bills.

  5. religion has no place in the laws of this country. are we back in the dark ages again? yes – judging by this argument between religious zealots, who would impose their ways on all of us. i do not wish to tell them not to be religious, and they should grant me the same freedom to not act as they do. your rejoinders to all concerned, and especially to Rep.Lesko, are well reasoned Michelle…something that religious zealots do not connect with. continue…

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