Governor Jan Brewer signed new restrictions on abortions Thursday even as lawmakers moved to expand laws exempting who has to fund contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

Arizona has led the nation in the decline in the teen birth rate from 2007 to 2010.

That's according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nationally, the rate of teenaged girls having babies dropped 9 percent to 34 girls per thousand.

But in Arizona the rate has dropped 29 percent.

At 42 teenage births per thousand, Arizona still has one of the highest teen birthrates in the country.

New Federal data show the nation's teen birthrate is at historic lows.

And Arizona saw the largest decline in the country from 2007 to 2010.

In those 4 years, Arizona's birthrate for girls, aged 15 to 19, fell 29 percent.

Brady Hamilton put the report together for the National Center for Health Statistics.

But he says the states decline in teen birthrates is only part of the story.

"Arizona was fairly high, it wasn't the highest, but it was fairly high, so 29% still leaves room for more decline," said Hamilton.  

Bill on Contraceptive Coverage Facing Uncertain Future

Apr 6, 2012

It does not look like employers in this state are going to be able to use their religious beliefs to deny contraceptive coverage to their workers. 

Pete Souza

Gov. Jan Brewer says part of pending Arizona legislation on insurance coverage for birth control drugs could make it uncomfortable for women using contraception for reasons over than avoiding pregnancy.

The bill would allow all employers with religious and moral objections to birth control to refuse to provide coverage for that purpose through their health plans. Those employers still would have to provide coverage for contraception for other medical reasons but could make women seeking reimbursements explain why they need it.

A Senate panel voted Monday to let employers with religious or moral objections refuse to include contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans for their workers.

HB 2625 would repeal a decade-old mandate which says that companies that provide health insurance for workers must also cover contraceptives. Representative Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale) said the move is necessary to protect freedom.

House Approves Religious Ban on Contraception Coverage

Mar 2, 2012

The state House voted Thursday to let ANY employer refuse to provide contraceptive coverage based on its religious beliefs.

State laws says companies that provides prescription coverage for workers must pay for contraceptives.  There is an exception for religious employers. But that is limited to churches and certain nonprofit service affiliates. This legislation would expand that exception to any company that claimed a religious reason for refusing to fund birth control. Rep. John Kavanagh said that ban would include the "morning-after'' pill. 

As the Saint Jude Catholic Church's sanctuary reverberated with the tunes of a Spanish language band shortly before mass on Sunday evening, Amparo Gonzalez, 56, sat in a nearby pew, thumbing through this week’s church bulletin.

There, stamped on page two in English and Spanish, was a stern letter from San Diego’s bishop, Robert Brom, calling President Obama's recent rule requiring that religious institutions' health plans cover contraception unjust. He said it violated the collective Catholic conscience.