Arizona Bill Would Pull Abortion Coverage for All Public Employees

Arizona may soon ban health insurance coverage of abortion and abortion-related health services for public employees. 

The text of Senate bill 1305–which was passed by the Senate last week–prohibits any public money directly or indirectly associated with health insurance policies from being used to pay for coverage of “services related to the performance of an abortion.” Under the current language, this ban would deny abortion coverage to all city, county and state employees.

The bill includes exceptions for abortion coverage only if the procedure will save the life of the woman or will “avert substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Planned Parenthood of Arizona Public Policy Director Michelle Steinberg says the bill is so broad that “services related to abortion” could result in the exclusion from coverage of a lot more than abortion care. “The language, ‘related to abortion services’ could mean anything the health insurance companies could want it to mean,” Steinberg says. “There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty what would be covered and what would not be covered under this bill.”

Steinberg gave the example of a case in which a pregnant woman, whose fetus is found to have severe anamolies, could be required to pay out of pocket for all the testing and related doctor’s visits needed to determine whether the pregnancy will advance.

Jolinda Nestor, communications coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Utah also points out that in addition to hindering access for women to health services, the bill also takes local control away from cities and municipalities in determining what insurance coverage to provide their workers.

“The decision about what insurance and benefits public employees receive should be left up to their employer — be it the city of Tucson or the town of Buckeye,” Nestor said.

Steinberg said that “chances are” it will pass the House.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • leftcoaster

    I’m reverted to third grade, where the surest route to power was finding pathetically meaningless ways to intimidate and restrain the second-graders.


    This is what it’s come to, yet again — They look for ANY way possible to attack abortion, and the “we-don’t-want-tax-dollars-spent-on-it!” crap MUST stop. I think that in 2010 anyone who smokes cigarettes is an abject moron, but that doesn’t stop me from believing MY tax dollars should be used however a physician and patient see fit to combat lung cancer.


    I’m not sure what’s worse: The tendency for these legislators to hold hostage our reproductive rights through insidious restrictions like this, or we in the pro-choice crowd who let it go, unchecked.

  • frolicnaked

    I’ve worked for 3 different state/municipal employers in Arizona in the past several years; my partner is employed with a fourth. None of those employer-provided insurance plans have covered abortion except in cases where the woman’s life was definitely and immediately at risk.


    While I’m not claiming that 4 is a representative sample size, we’re in a comparatively liberal area of the state. (Yes, yes, I know. “Comparatively liberal” together with “Arizona” sounds funny.) I have to think that employers and insurance plans in other areas aren’t going to be particularly more likely to cover abortion.


    So it’s not really a stretch to think that they’re legislating against something that’s not happening particularly frequently anyway. But gee, it’s nice to know that in the unlikely event that large insurance companies became better providers by covering more medical services, the legislators in Arizona are stepping right in to stop that.

  • leftcoaster

    This is the opposite of — but as stupid as — knee-jerk legislation responding to a single proximate instance.

    And I’ll say it again — why we let it happen is beyond me. Where’s Emily’s List when we need it?

  • wendy-banks

    The podunk Arizona town I live in seems rabid right– Lucky me… Can I move back to Phoenix now? I miss civilization… And if hear one more McCain-Hayworth ad I’m gonna throw up. Yes, that McCain… And Hayworth is even farther right than him *yech*.

    From the violet-haired high-desert rat.

  • leftcoaster

    You have my sympathies. I sometimes forget how saturating these campaigns can be when you’re in their crosshairs.


    I’m fortunate enough to live in a very blue state, on the bluest side, so our campaigns are probably the perfect image of your dream.