Always Include Evidence In Your Action Alerts

Yesterday the ACLU posted an action alert entitled “Use Birth Control? You’re Fired!” regarding an Arizona bill that allows employers to deny insurance coverage for non-medical contraception and more importantly terminate employment if a women chooses to seek additional insurance to cover contraception.

The problem with this action alert, however, is that it does not include any evidence or information about said bill, not even its name.

Here is the alert:

First, a bill that gives immunity to doctors who lie to couples about the results of their prenatal tests in order to prevent them from getting an abortion. Now, a bill that would give your boss the green light to fire you for using birth control. You think I am kidding? I wish. For a decade now, Arizona insurance companies have been required to provide coverage for contraception just like other prescriptions. But, because they saw an opening to score some political points, some politicians there are suddenly moving to take that coverage away from women and their families.

And we aren’t talking here just about exemptions for religiously affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals and universities. We are talking about authorizing secular, for-profit employers to deny a woman coverage for birth control if the employer doesn’t believe that she and her partner should be allowed to have sex without getting pregnant. Yup, that’s right. If the owner of the Taco Bell where you work opposes birth control, Arizona legislators want to give him a legal right to deny you insurance coverage for your pills.

Sadly, that isn’t even the half of it. You may want to sit down for this one. Arizona legislators know that whether or not her insurance covers it, a woman may get the prescription she needs to prevent an unintended pregnancy. They want to give her boss the right to control that too. The bill they are pushing would not only allow employers to take the insurance coverage away, but it would also make it easier for an employer who finds out that his employee uses birth control to fire her. You heard me right . . . to fire her. And I thought Rush Limbaugh’s comments were as low as you could go on this one.

The Arizona bill has, incredibly, already passed one house, but we can still stop it. We’ve seen what can happen if we make our voices heard. So, if you’ve had enough; if you think the decision about whether to have a child is one for you and your partner, not your boss and your senator, I urge you to speak up now. Tell the legislators in Arizona to stop playing politics with women’s health and put personal and private decisions back in the hands of a woman and her family.

To find the bill number, you have to click through the action alert. Since most people need to be convinced before they take a click action, this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Even with the bill number, which is HB2625, it isn’t easy for people unfamiliar with Arizona’s legislature to find what the alert is referencing. If someone were to find the bill and read the introduced version they would not find anything that allowed employers to fire women for seeking outside contraceptive insurance. In fact, they would find the opposite. You have to go to the HOUSE ADOPTED AMENDMENT: Judiciary – Strike Everything. Once you’ve found that, you need to read down to the very end to find the problem: the amendment strikes the clause “A religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.”

Even after finding this, the ramifications require explanation. The action alert makes it sound like the bill positively states that employers may fire women for seeking outside contraception insurance. In fact, what the bill does is remove the protection from such discrimination. Policy by omission requires much more explanation than policy by inclusion.

This alert was brought to my attention via Facebook, where I saw the confusion that this lack of evidence and explanation caused. The takeaway here is to always provide the pertinent information to your readers in an action alert. Your job is to do the research work for them and make their decision to take action as easy as possible.