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Arizona Law Endorses Malpractice and Discrimination In Defense Of "Religious Liberty"


Written by Jessica Mason Pieklo for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post. The state of Arizona is near the top of states looking to dramatically expand religious privileges as a means of curtailing women's reproductive rights and redefining the relationship between women and the law. Earlier this month, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into lawtwo controversial bills, HB 2625 and SB 1365. HB 2625 expands the number of businesses that can deny access to insurance coverage for contraception and has garnered the most attention on the heels of the nationwide battle over access to prescription contraception. But it is SB 1365 that poses the greatest risk to the women of Arizona. SB 1365 prohibits the state from denying, revoking, or suspending a professional or occupational license based on any action deriving from a person's religious convictions. It's a broad expansion of the state's conscience clause that already allows pharmacists, doctors, or other health care workers to refuse to perform abortions or to prescribe emergency contraception (though it is contraception, not an abortifacient) based on religious objections. Now, any licensed professional can deny services to anyone by declaring that their “sincerely held” religious belief is in conflict with otherwise prohibited and discriminatory conduct and be insulated from professional repercussions for doing so. That means, for example, that attorneys can now decline to represent health care workers facing complaints related to the delivery of reproductive health care, or they can refuse to represent an individual simply because she happens to be gay. Supporters of SB 1365 insist the bill does nothing more than clarify that constitutional religious freedom protects a person's professional license even as they acknowledge there are no known incidents of faith-based discipline in the state. Once again, the religious right offered up a solution in search of a problem. Continue reading....