Missouri Gov. Vetoes Bill that Would Stop HHS-Mandate and Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance

By Dave Andrusko

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Ignoring a massive grassroots outpouring of support for SB 749, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Thursday vetoed the bill which would have protected Missouri individual and group insurance consumers from paying for coverage, such as contraceptives and abortions, that violates their moral or religious beliefs. The Archdiocese of St. Louis, called the governor’s veto “a profound missed opportunity to assert conscience rights for Missouri citizens when those rights are in jeopardy from the federal HHS [Health and Human Service] mandate.”

Nixon had until Saturday to make his decision. He announced his veto yesterday at a press conference.

Pro-lifers are gearing up for September when the legislature meets for its annual veto session. In May SB 749 passed the House 105-33 and 28-6 in the Senate. To override Nixon’s veto,109 votes would be needed in the House and 23 votes in the Senate. Republican state Sen. John Lamping told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he would seek to override the veto.

The connection of the bill to Obama’s HHS mandate abridgement of religious freedom was obvious.  Under the mandate religious institutions are required to pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and conscience

Writing in  the St. Louis Review (the publication of the Archdiocese of St. Louis),  Joseph Kenny explained

“Passage of the legislation was spurred on when some 3,000 people came to the Missouri Capitol on March 27 for a rally for religious liberty. People of faith came to the rally to protest the  Obama administration’s edict that insurance policies cover abortion drugs, sterilization procedures and contraceptives. Rally participants were also advocating for passage of SB 749 as a way of asserting the rights of the citizens of Missouri to not have to pay for these items. Two days later the Missouri Senate approved the bill and sent it to the Missouri House of Representatives.”

Pro-life organizations, such as Missouri Right to Life and the Missouri Catholic Conference squared off against many of their typical foes and others that aren’t necessarily found on the other side. The former included Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The latter included the Sierra Club, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Missouri chapter of the AFL-CIO.

There is added background to SB 749. Voters overwhelmingly approved a August 2010 referendum (Proposition C), 71%-29%.  It prohibits governmental authorities from compelling citizens to purchase health insurance, or to penalize anyone for paying for health care services directly without health insurance.

In a statement Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said, “Governor Nixon’s veto bows down to the Obama agenda and completely ignores the will of Missourians that was made clear in 2010 by an overwhelming 71 percent of voters.”

Reports are that Gov. Nixon received up to 10,000 messages before issuing his veto.

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