Pro-Lifers Lobby Missouri AG to Stand Up for Law Targeting HHS Mandate

State   Steven Ertelt   Mar 29, 2013   |   1:17PM    Jefferson City, MO

Leading pro-life advocates in Missouri are lobbying the state’s attorney general to stand up for a law targeting the pro-abortion HHS mandate after an Obama-appointed federal judge overturned it.

Last year, Missouri lawmakers ignored the warnings of the Obama administration and overrode their governor’s veto to enact religious exemptions to the abortion pill mandate.

The bill, which passed through the state senate on a 26-6 vote and through the house on a 109-45 vote, is now law in Missouri and provides citizens of that state with serious religious freedom protections. Not only that, but the new law actually provides the extra safeguard of giving Missourians grounds on which to sue should their religious exemptions be violated.

The new law would allow individuals, employers and insurers to cite religious or moral exemptions from mandatory insurance coverage for abortion, contraception, and sterilization. It also gives the state attorney general — or other individuals and entities — grounds to file lawsuits claiming an infringement of rights if they are compelled to cover contraception.

However, the law faced a legal challenge and this month, a federal judge has struck down the law protecting the religious freedoms of Missourians.

The state’s Catholic bishops are among those pro-life advocates asking Attorney General Chris Koster to appeal the ruling.

In addition, Missouri House Speaker Timothy Jones, R-Eureka, announced at a press conference March 28 in Springfield, Mo., that he has proposed a House Concurrent Resolution urging Koster to defend the law. The bill is HCR 35.

The Missouri Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said it was disappointed in Judge Fleissig’s decision, adding that it attacks the conscience rights and religious liberty of all Missouri citizens. Attorney General Koster had defended the law before the court, but Judge Fleissig dismissed those arguments.

In a March 21 letter, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, speaking on behalf of all Missouri bishops, urged Koster to appeal the judge’s decision “with all due haste. No one should be forced to pay for contraceptives and potentially abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their conscience.”

The Archbishop’s letter was accompanied by a statement signed by the Missouri bishops.

The bishops said in their statement that “the revisions to Missouri’s insurance law (SB 749) passed last September respected the fundamental right of both institutions and individuals to exercise their religious convictions in the health care insurance marketplace. Unfortunately, Judge Fleissig’s March 14 decision not only strikes down several of those revisions, but it leaves Missouri law with a contraceptive mandate and no conscience protections. This is unacceptable.”

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Koster says he wants some clarification from the judge. According to AP, his office “released a statement Thursday saying the ruling earlier this month has created uncertainties for insurers and individuals. He wants the judge to clarify the intended scope of the decision.”

Please contact Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster today, telling him that he must appeal this decision. He can be contacted here:

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster
Supreme Court Building
207 W. High St.
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: 573-751-3321
Fax: 573-751-0774
attorney.general@ago.mo.gov