While the media was focused on Super Bowl XLIX at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium, just a few miles away at the state capitol, Republican lawmakers quietly introduced a bill to restrict reproductive rights.
Under current state law, any health insurance policy offered through a state exchange is banned from providing coverage for abortions unless the coverage is offered as an optional rider for which an additional insurance premium is charged. This does not, however, apply to abortions necessary to save the life, or prevent significant physical impairment, of the woman having the abortion. There is no exception for rape or incest.
SB 1318 would remove the provision permitting the purchase and payment for a separate optional rider. The bill would also apply to any health-care exchange operating in the state, which could effectively ban any health insurance from covering abortion care.
“The weekend the Super Bowl came to town, anti-choice legislators dropped a bill that would not only target abortion providers with additional and unnecessary regulations, but also restrict the private sector from contracting with privately-contracted insurance agencies to access women’s health care,” Kat Sabine, executive director of NARAL Arizona, told Rewire.
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Arizona already mandates that physicians providing abortion care obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic or facility in which abortions are performed. SB 1318 adds a requirement to the statute that requires clinics to submit “all documentation” related to the physician’s admitting privileges to the state’s Department of Health.
“With the extreme financial budget deficits the State of Arizona faces, a focus on job creation and excellence in employee recruitment should be the focus of this administration, and not imposing additional restrictions on the private sector support for employee health care,” Sabine said.
The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a right-wing think tank, supports the anti-choice legislation, claiming that the bill only prevents “taxpayer funding of abortion” and ensures abortion clinics comply with the state’s “regulatory framework.”
CAP also claims that medical and surgical abortion care “present serious risks to women,” thus necessitating the need for physicians to obtain admitting privileges. This is contrary to overwhelming evidence that shows abortion is both safe and highly regulated.
Both chambers of the Arizona legislature are controlled by Republicans, who hold a 17-13 advantage in the state senate and a 39-25 advantage in the house.
The bill has been assigned to the state senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, where it awaits further action.