Contraception Mandate Challenged

The Missouri Legislature voted by wide margins on Sept. 12 to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill meant to prevent employers or health insurance providers from being compelled to provide coverage for contraception, abortion or sterilization. The Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, strongly supported the bill, saying that it “upholds religious liberty in a very practical way. Under this bill, no one can be forced to pay for surgical abortions, abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives or sterilizations when this violates their moral or religious beliefs.” Nixon said in July that he had vetoed the bill because Missouri law already protected employers and individuals who had ethical or religious objections to contraceptive coverage, and he objected to the bill’s extension of those protections to insurance companies. The Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement that the legislation “does nothing to make contraceptives illegal; in fact, they are widely available and affordable. It does, however, assert conscience rights for Missouri citizens when those rights are in jeopardy due to the federal Department of Health and Human Services mandate.”

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