Proposed Texas House Resolution on Birth Control Sends a Message on Women’s Health Care

On Wednesday the Texas House Select Committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility will consider a resolution condemning the federal requirement that most employers include coverage for contraception in health insurance for their employees. HCR 32, by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, lacks the force of law, but its passage would send an alarming message that says the Texas House thinks it’s just fine if bosses impose their personal religious beliefs on the health care decisions of their employees. And it would make clear that women’s health care simply isn’t a priority in Texas.

Here are some points House members might want to keep in mind as they debate this issue:

  • In a February poll for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, 56 percent of registered voters in Texas – including 56 percent of Catholics and 51 percent of Protestants – said they opposed allowing employers to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control because it violates their religious or moral beliefs. The poll was conducted jointly by the Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm of Chesapeake Beach Consulting.
  • According to the same poll, 68 percent of registered voters in Texas said women having access to family planning and birth control, regardless of their income, is important.
  • The federal birth control mandate exempts churches and other houses of worship as well as other faith-based, nonprofit employers like universities and hospitals.
  • A court brief from Americans United for Separation of Church and State notes that giving for-profit businesses an exemption from the mandate could open the door to other employers denying insurance coverage for medical treatments ranging from blood transfusions to psychiatric care. Employers whose religions bar the consumption of animal byproducts could even refuse to offer insurance coverage for medicines that include a gelatin coating, even if their employees did not share their employers’ religious beliefs.
  • HCR 32 notes that “many evangelical leaders consider” emergency contraception to be “abortion-inducing drugs.” Those evangelical leaders might think that, but medical authorities have said that the science doesn’t back up such claims.
  • Many faith leaders support public policies that protect women’s access to birth control. In fact, 371 clergy members in Texas – including Christians, Jews and other non-Christians – have signed on to a statement supporting birth control access for all Texas women.

You can watch video from the committee hearing here. The meeting is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. or upon adjournment of the full House (whichever is later). The agenda is here.

Rep. Stickland is also the author of House Bill 649, which would have the state reimburse employers for federal penalties they must pay if they do not include birth control in health insurance coverage for their employees. The House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on HB 649 on March 13. The committee has not yet voted on the bill. (More on HB 649 here and here.)

This article was posted in these categories: 2013 Texas Legislature, birth control, TFN. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post.Trackbacks are closed, but you can Post a Comment.


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3 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Zane said:

    “So let me point out a few things: Americans United For Separation of Church and State is nothing more than a radical group that would abolish any sign of religion from the public square. It has lead movements to remove crosses from properties that are owned by states, saying that the cross is offensive to atheists. It also supported removing the historic Ten Commandments from our state capital lawn. Anyone who wants to use this group as a positive reference needs to re-think what our First Amendment is all about as they seem not to know.”

    The First Amendment is all about preventing one particular religion from taking over the government and using the government to exclusively promote its religious beliefs over all others. How would you feel if Roman Catholics controlled the U.S. Government and could use it to force you to believe and do exactly as they say (according to their religious beliefs) in every aspect of your life? I dare say that you would oppose it bitterly.

    Well, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have been trying to do the exact same thing for many years now—and have been failing miserably at it. The reason you are failing miserably is because other Christians (like me), members of other religions, and people who do not have a religious persuasion do not want what you believe to be forced on them anymore than you want to have Roman Catholicism forced on you by the government. All organizations like Americans United are doing is fighting off the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical dictatorial regimes in the same way that you would fight off the Roman Catholics and their dictatorial regime.

    I think you need to ask yourself a basic question Zane:

    “Why is my system of religious beliefs so weak, powerless, and unimportant that my system of belief is going to die if the government does not step in and help us to save it and promote it?”

    Do you have an answer for that?

  2. zane
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Is this article a joke coming from a group that has “Freedom” in its name?

    So let me point out a few things: Americans United For Separation of Church and State is nothing more than a radical group that would abolish any sign of religion from the public square. It has lead movements to remove crosses from properties that are owned by states, saying that the cross is offensive to atheists. It also supported removing the historic Ten Commandments from our state capital lawn. Anyone who wants to use this group as a positive reference needs to re-think what our First Amendment is all about as they seem not to know.

    Secondly, in the very heading at the top of this page it says that Texas Freedom Network supports “religious freedom” yet the author of this article doesn’t seem to think that freedom should apply to private business owners and that employer provided health care is a right, and not a benefit.

    Here is a noval idea: if you are offered a job but the company provided health insurance doesn’t provide you the benefits you are seeking, don’t take the job. What an ultimate exercise in freedom; the employer has the right to exercise their freedom in what insurance benefits they offer and the prospective employee has a right to refuse to work for that company.

    Women are NOT denied birth control in Texas. In the case of low income women, they have access to birth control via Planned Parenthood that is either free or low cost. Low income women also have access to income based health care clinics where they can get a perscription for birth control that costs $9.00/month at CVS, Wal-Mart or Target. In Texas, that $9.00 represents less than the cost of two packs of cigaretts.

    This article is an example of the opinions of low information voters who only hear the taking points but none of the facts.

  3. Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    So how do we shut this guy Strickland down? Who do we call? What can we do now?

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