The measure, which now only needs the governor’s signature to become law, sailed through after a passionate debate on the floor.
The final tally was 19-9.
Critics said the measure, HB2625, insults women and infringes on their ability to control their health.
“It’s nobody’s business who is using contraception. It’s nobody’s business what you do with your body,” said Sen. Paul Aboud, a Democrat from Tucson.
But supporters say the bill protects employers’ religious rights.
Sen. Nancy Barto, a key ally of the pro-life movement, said the issue came up because the federal government is intruding into people’s healthcare decisions, referring to the federal health care overhaul and subsequent rules on contraception coverage.
The governor earlier asked lawmakers to stop sending her bills until they have a budget deal in place. As a result, the contraception measure and other bills that have received a final approval are unlikely to be immediately transmitted to Brewer’s office.
As originally drafted, HB2625 would have allowed any Arizona employer to deny contraception coverage for religious reasons.
But critics forced a major overhaul, and the bill was later revived on the promise it would be narrowly tailored to only allow church-affiliated organizations to deny contraception coverage.
Six legislators from the House and the Senate subsequently met in a conference committee to dramatically change the bill’s language to now only deal with “religiously affiliated employers.”
The amended version allows an employer whose incorporation papers “clearly state that it is a religiously motivated organization and whose religious beliefs are central to the organization’s operating principles” to opt out of providing contraceptives. Churches are already exempted from providing contraception coverage.
During that conference committee, Republicans also defeated two amendments by Democratic Sen. Linda Lopez to restore a clause that prohibits discrimination against employees who get contraception coverage elsewhere, and to require businesses that claim religious objections against contraception to inform current and prospective employees that they won’t cover payment for it.