After significant pressure from pro-abortion groups, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed pro-life legislation passed during this year’s General Assembly. Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups pressed Nixon to reject Senate Bill 749, sponsored by Senator John Lamping that is a challenge to the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate issued by the Obama Administration.
The bill approved by the Missouri Legislature states that no employee or employer can be forced to purchase health insurance coverage which includes abortion, contraception, or sterilization, if those items or procedures are contrary to their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The bill provides that no governmental entity can penalize an employee or employer for declining or refusing to purchase or provide such coverage.
Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life, criticized Nixon for vetoing the bill.
“During the 2012 Legislative Session, the Missouri Senate and House passed SB 749 in response to the HHS mandate from Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama Administration forcing religious institutions to pay for abortions,” she told LifeNews. “SB 749 would have sent a clear message that pro-life Missourians oppose participating in the taking of innocent human lives against our religious beliefs.”
“SB 749 also would have placed in statute the ability for people of faith to bring a lawsuit if they are forced to pay for morally objectionable procedures. Governor Nixon joins the Obama Administration in attacking our religious liberty by supporting the HHS mandate forcing all Missourians to pay for insurance that includes abortion coverage even if doing so is a violation of our religious beliefs,” Fichter added. “SB 749 passed the Missouri House and Senate with strong bi-partisan support. Missouri Right to Life urges the legislature to override this veto in September. A veto override of SB 749 will show pro-life Missourians who will stand for our religious liberties.”
“We are sincerely disappointed that Governor Nixon has chosen to give away our religious liberties to Washington politicians,” she said.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Missouri, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the Sierra Club, Missouri AFL-CIO, and the Missouri chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women joined together to blast Nixon’s office with tens of thousands of phone calls and emails.
Lamping’s bill states that no employee or employer can be compelled to obtain or provide health care coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization, if such items or procedures violate their religious beliefs. The legislation would not reverse the impact of the contraceptive mandate in Missouri. However, it would become law in Missouri if the abortion drug mandate were to withdrawn by a new President, repealed by Congress, or invalidated by a federal court.
“The contraceptive edict issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requires that all health insurance plans include coverage for every contraceptive approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That includes the abortifacient drugs Ella and Plan B,” said Joe Ortwerth of the Missouri Family Policy Council. “The mandate takes effect August 1st. Religious organizations other than churches will have until August 1st of 2012 comply. That means that Catholic institutions and employers will be forced to provide health insurance coverage that violates their religious doctrines, or drop their health insurance coverage altogether.”
There is a possibility the Missouri legislature may override Nixon’s veto.
The Missouri House and Senate approved the legislation by impressive majorities that appear capable of overriding a gubernatorial veto. The Senate adopted the bill by a vote of 28-6. The House endorsed the bill by a vote of 105-33.
The Catholic Church in the United States is making it clear that they have no intention to comply. The Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities of St. Louis have joined 42 other Catholic dioceses and Catholic agencies in filing 12 different regional lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services over the abortion drug mandate.
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“Religious liberty is our first, most cherished freedom, and it requires constant vigilance and protection or it will be lost,” said St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson in announcing the lawsuit. “We have pursued every imaginable avenue to correct the mandate to fund medically procedures and prescriptions that we believe are morally wrong without litigation. We cannot remain silent while the right of Catholics to practice our faith is eroded.”
ACTION: Contact Governor Nixon’s office to voice your response to his veto of the religious liberty bill at (573) 751-3222, or e-mail him at https://governor.mo.gov/contact/