Brewer signs Ariz. bill on contraception coverage

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill to loosen Arizona's requirement that health plans cover contraception.

The bill stirred months of debate in the state Legislature both for its potential impact on women's health plan coverage and because of privacy concerns.

Under the legislation, employers which formally identify themselves as religiously oriented organizations can drop contraception coverage for birth control purposes. They'd still have to provide it for other medical purposes.

The legislation relaxes a decade-old state law that generally requires employers' health plans to cover contraception. That law lets churches opt out of the mandate.

The bill originally would have allowed any employer to opt out due to religious objections.

The bill's final version gave the opt-out to religiously oriented organizations. Those include church-affiliated hospitals and charities.