According to the Huffington Post and also reported in the International Business Times, Arizona state legislator Debbie Lesko has drafted a bill permitting non-religious employers to opt out of offering birth control coverage to their employees if they have a moral objection to it AND permitting those employers to ask their employees to prove they’re using birth control to treat things like acne, not to prevent pregnancy.
After “WTF?!” and “Really, AZ? Really?” here’s my question: Are men who have their families on their employer-sponsored healthcare plan going to be required to prove that their wives or daughters take contraception for reasons other than preventing pregnancy? Regardless, the ACLU is right: this is discrimination and a clear invasion of privacy. Even if you’re using contraception for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, an employer’s knowledge of your condition could lead that employer to deny you a promotion because he or she assumes you’ll be sick often, or assumes that once your condition gets better, you’ll want to have children. An employer could assume that a man whose wife or daughter uses contraception for any reason is going to miss work or not be able to function well at work because his family has medical issues.
The sheer expense of not using contraception to prevent pregnancy should scare any employer–unless business owners intend to hire only men who sign a vow to never have children. (Because if you’re morally opposed to contraception, vasectomies are out. And if you think sex should only be used for procreation, I guess you would have to ask male employees to sign a purity vow. And fire men whose wives are past child-bearing age. And definitely cut those old heads off from Viagra coverage. But anyway…) Not only are prenatal care and childbirth expensive, but also well-baby, well-child, and sick-child care. Parents lose a lot of time at work when their kids are sick. Yes, health insurance is a perk that most companies won’t be required to offer until 2014, but isn’t it good for business when those employees come to work?
Maybe employers who don’t want to pay for contraception for the purpose of preventing pregnancy can afford men whose wives are intent on having many children. Or maybe their businesses can run without most of the college-educated people in this country–the women.