Legislators narrowly voted down a controversial contraception bill Wednesday, preceded by activists and politicians speaking out against “anti-women” bills during a “War on Women” rally on the Senate Lawn.
The 13-17 vote came the day after the Senate approved an amendment to House Bill 2625, clarifying that employees would only have to explain to their insurance company, not their employer, why they are seeking contraceptives.
The Senate approved an amendment to HB 2625 by bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, which clarified that an employee would not have to explain to their employer a reason for purchasing contraceptives, only to their insurance company.
Barto along with other Senate members can ask to vote again within 24 hours of the proposed measure’s defeat. Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, voted against HB 2625 Wednesday and spoke at the "War on Women" rally in protest of legislators who support bills attempting to control women’s access abortion and contraceptives.
“They woke up a sleeping giant, and she is not happy,” Lopez said to the crowd. Fundamentalist religious groups in the legislature use bills like HB 2625 to impose their beliefs on the public, she said.
“I don’t care what they believe, just don’t try to tell my family and friends to believe the same way,” Lopez said.
Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, spoke at the rally and said the public should stand up and seek Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s support for women’s health care rights.
“We have one message to the highest woman in the state in Arizona,” she said. “To tell her to stand up for our rights (and) her rights.”
Fountain Hills resident Michelle Melchiorre said at the rally about that she takes contraceptives to treat her iron deficiency, a condition that led to her upcoming hysterectomy. Had HB 2625 passed, Melchiorre said she questions whether employers would have hired her knowing her contraceptive needs.
“Our lives are our choice,” she said.
ASU theater junior and rally attendee Samantha Sidoti said she is fortunate to be able to afford contraceptives through her insurance, but sympathizes with women struggling to afford contraception.
“I do feel attacked,” Sidoti said. “It hurts me that someone that is my age might not have that opportunity.”
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