Feathered Bastard

Debbie Lesko's Freedom-Hating Anti-Birth-Control Bill

Republicans. I know some of them are sane here in Sand Land, but you wouldn't know it by their wingnutty hijinks in the state Legislature this year, where they've placed a birther-bill, a late-term abortion ban and a state-funded border militia ahead of doing anything to aid the economy, bring jobs to Arizona or improve our dismal education system.

Indeed, this state of affairs with GOPers run amok in a legislative supermajority that brooks no compromise or rationality is the best argument yet for adopting a Texas-like system of only allowing the legislature to meet every two years. Heck, I'd be fine with holding them to once every five years, with a requirement that for every one law they pass, they have to rescind another.

Though their party is supposed to believe in the dictum that the government which governs best governs least, the Arizona GOP remains hell-bent on pushing state government into nearly every aspect of Arizonans' lives. 

Case in point, Republican state Representative Debbie Lesko's anti-contraception bill, House Bill 2625, which would further an employer's access to your private medical files and let that same employer discriminate against you if you seek to obtain "insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source."

This antediluvian proposal plunges us back into debates that people haven't had since the mid-Sixties, when my mother and yours had to fight like banshees to get access to the then-controversial birth-control pill. 

State law already allowed religious employers to opt out of providing insurance coverage that pays for birth control. But Lesko's bill broadens the language considerably, and gives employers more power to pry into the sex lives and medical records of their employees.

In speaking on behalf of her bill, Lesko made the inevitable, knee-jerk GOP comparison to communism.

"We don't live in the Soviet Union," she said. "And so government shouldn't be telling employers, Catholic organizations or mom and pop employers to do something that's against their moral beliefs."

Sorry, Debbie, but you're the one goin' all Stalin on us. In a communist country, you have no privacy, no right to talk to your doctor without looking over your shoulder. Here, in the good ol' U.S. of A., there are privacy laws restricting access to your personal medical information. 

Under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, health care providers can't turn over medical records to someone else without a signed release from the patient in their back pockets.

But Lesko wants her fellow ovary-bearers to have ZERO privacy when it comes to contraception prescribed by a doctor. Even if you take the medication for non-contraceptive reasons, your employer would have the right to know why you're taking it. So you would have to disclose your private medical problems to your boss. 

What about religious employers who have problems with all sex outside of marriage? Why aren't they allowed to object to some dude who needs Viagra for his erectile disfunction?

Actually, an Ohio state Senator has authored legislation to do just that, though mostly as a protest against all these state laws springing up restricting a woman's reproductive health choices. 

According to a recent report in The Daily Beast, the proposed legislation would require the following for guys wanting Viagra: "...celibacy lectures, rectal exams, affidavits from former lovers swearing impotence problems, and forced viewing of a video pimping the medicine's side effects."

Hah. Can't see many Republican men voting for that. Because those fellas need their Viagra, if you get my drift.

Lesko's liberty-loathing bill doesn't address a man's hankerin' for Cialis, because GOPers -- even women GOPers, weirdly -- are obsessed with uteruses and those who have them.

Hey, whatever floats your boat. Just don't be cramming your sexual hangups down the throats of others. 

Lesko's bill isn't about allowing folks religious freedom. It's about not allowing people freedom from religion, if they so desire. And that's totally un-American.

To borrow and modify a line from Lesko's Tea Party pals and the yellow T-shirts they're so fond of wearing, "Lady, don't tread on me."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons