4:30 p.m., March 12, UPDATE: We just got word that HB 649 has been removed from the House State Affairs Committee’ s Wednesday meeting agenda.
The right’s war on sex education and women’s access to birth control continues at the Texas Legislature. Two key bills on those issues face important steps in the legislative process this week.
On Tuesday the Senate Education Committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 521, which would impose new state mandates on school districts that use outside entities to provide instruction on sex education. SB 521, by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, would bar anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from teaching sex education in public schools. Even more problematic is that the bill includes other bureaucratic requirements that would make it harder for school districts to offer sex education and for students to take such classes if they are offered. This is a reckless bill in any state, but especially in one with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Click here for more about the SB 521 and its Senate committee hearing earlier this month.
On Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 649, which would effectively encourage employers to deny coverage for birth control in health insurance for employees. HB 649, by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, would give businesses a reimbursement for state taxes if they are fined for refusing to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirement for including coverage for emergency contraception in employee health care plans. Under the bill, any employer could refuse to include such coverage simply by citing a conflict with “religious convictions of the owners of the business.”
A February poll for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 56 percent of the state’s registered voters oppose allowing bosses to deny their employees health care coverage for birth control. Most Texas simply think employers shouldn’t be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees’ health care decisions. Women should be able to make decisions about their own health care — and about when or if to have children — no matter where they work.
TFN opposes both bills.
You can tell legislators that you also oppose them by clicking on the links in the Take Action box in the column on the right.