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In Texas, Tax Breaks for Employers Who Refuse to Provide Contraceptive Coverage

Lately, it seems that Texas lawmakers can’t pass up any opportunity to deny women health care. In 2011, they cut funding for birth control services by two-thirds, forcing 53 clinics that provided those services to close. Then, they turned down $30 million in federal money that would have provided contraception and cancer screening to low income women, rather than allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the program. And now, a representative in the Texas House has proposed a bill that would give a tax break to companies that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. This is crazy. The Affordable Care Act requires all new health plans, including employer sponsored plans, to cover contraception with no-cost sharing. But some employers, including private for-profit companies, are refusing to provide that coverage, claiming that to do so would violate their religious freedom. In other words, these employers want to use their religion to discriminate and this Texas state representative wants to help them by allowing them to deduct any penalties they have to pay for not complying with the benefit from their state taxes. So, basically, this bill would provide a tax break so companies can discriminate. What will they think of next?