14/03/2012 08:04 GMT | Updated 16/03/2012 06:33 GMT

Arizona Employers 'Could Fire Female Workers For Using Birth Control Pills' If HB 2625 Bill Is Passed

A proposed law in Arizona could apparently allow employers the right to fire female workers for using birth control pills.

The Republican-backed HB 2625 bill would allow bosses to ask women whether they are using contraception and even demand provide proof they are using the pills for non-sexual reasons.

Employers would also have the option to deny women contraception coverage if they are morally or ethically opposed to it, ABC 2News reported.

The bill was drafted by female state legislator Debbie Lesko, who believes employers should not have to pay for insurance for contraceptives if it conflicts with their moral values.

She said: “I believe we live in America. We don't live in the Soviet Union.

"So, government should not be telling the organisations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs...My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion. All my bill does is that an employer can opt out of the mandate if they have any religious objections."

The bill has already been passed in the house and a Senate Judiciary Committee and is now on its way to the full State Senate.

Arizona law currently allows religious employers to deny contraceptive coverage at their discretion. The new proposals would allow all businesses the same rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union has started a petition calling for the Arizona Senate to kill the bill.

It says: "This bill is about discrimination, plain and simple. It is about taking away a woman's access to basic health services. We know this bill isn't about religious freedom.

"Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on our own beliefs. It doesn't give the boss at a non-religious business the right to impose his or her beliefs."

The current law says: “A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.”

But as azcentral points out, the provision has been removed from the HB 2625 bill, indicating that not only can employers opt out of providing contraception insurance, but they are also off the hook in terms of discriminating against workers who source their own birth control.

As blogger E J Montini asks: “Doesn’t that open up the possibility of discrimination or firing?”

The ACLU adds: "This bill takes away existing protections that prevent employers from firing or otherwise punishing employees for using contraception."