Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed a bill [veto letter, PDF; SB 749 materials] on Thursday that would have prohibited mandatory insurance coverage of birth control for anyone with ethical or religious objections. Nixon explained that while he supports laws that afford employers strong religious protections, SB 749 gives insurance companies the ability to override the religious and moral beliefs of employers and employees:
Under [SB 749], an insurance company would be allowed to impose its will, and deny inclusion of contraceptive coverage, even if that position is inconsistent with the rights and beliefs of the employee or employer. The moral, ethical and religious beliefs of Missourians, that are currently honored, should not become secondary to the will of an insurance company. Such an effort would signal a retreat from the liberties enjoyed by employers and employees under current law.SB 749 was intended to rebuff a policy [AP report] by the Obama administration that requires insurers to cover birth control for women.
This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier in July, a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law [JURIST report] that would have effectively shut down the state's only abortion clinic. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appealed a ruling [JURIST report] by a district court judge that held that an abortion ultrasound bill is unconstitutional. Earlier last month, Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal signed a bill increasing abortion restrictions in the state [JURIST report]. In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs [JURIST report] that they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. Earlier that month, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County ruled [JURIST report] that a law restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. In March, Utah passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours [JURIST report] prior to obtaining the procedure.