Bad news out of Missouri this week: employers and insurers who personally oppose birth control, abortion and sterilization will be able to refuse to cover those forms of health care in their employee’s health insurance. Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon had vetoed the bill, but earlier this week, the Republican-controlled legislature overrode the veto.
A similar piece of legislation, called the Blunt Amendment, failed at the federal level back in March. Missouri is following the lead of religiously-affiliated institutions who have balked at reproductive rights coverage under President Obama’s health care reform, despite the administration’s compromise that insurers must pick up the tab if the employer won’t.
Supporters of the Missouri bill used the old “Waaahhh! A boss’ religious beliefs trumps his or her employee’s right to health care!”, while opponents justly say that where a woman is employed should have no bearing on what medical care she received. And let us not for get that some forms of birth control aren’t even about preventing pregnancy — they’re about regulating women’s other medical problems.
Gov. Nixon echoed the hands-off sentiment when he vetoed the bill in July, saying, “We want families making these decisions, not insurance companies.” Another opponent of the bill, Rep. Linda Black, who is a Democrat but against legal abortion, was quoted by the Huffington Post saying that refusing to cover the cost of birth control or sterilization may actually “lead to more” abortions. Excellent point, Rep. Black.
The Missouri bill will become law in 30 days, although it is currently facing a lawsuit by a Kansas City firefighter who opposes the law on grounds it is tantamount to gender discrimination. Additionally, the state law appears to be at odds with federal law and there will likely be lawsuits regarding that.
Enjoy the big, hot mess, Missouri. We’ll see what happens. Frisky readers in Missouri, I would love to have you weigh in in the comments.