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Federal judge blocks Missouri birth control law

A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Missouri health insurance law [SB 749 materials] that required insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if individuals or employers objected for religious or moral reasons. Judge Audrey Fleissig for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official website] ruled that the law conflicts [AP report] with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] and that federal law takes precedence over conflicting state laws. The PPACA required insurers to cover birth control at no additional cost to women. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed the bill [JURIST report] in July, but Missouri's legislature overrode the veto in September. SB 749 was intended to rebuff a policy by the Obama administration that requires insurers to cover birth control for women. Fleissig's ruling makes the temporary restraining order she issued in December permanent.

The reproductive rights controversy has been ongoing. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] narrowed the scope on a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against a 1972 Idaho law that makes it a felony to end one's own pregnancy. In August the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] Louisiana's Act 490, which allows the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) [official website] to revoke an abortion clinic's license immediately after a regulation violation, rather than allowing the abortion clinic time to comply with the regulation. In July a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law [JURIST report] that would have effectively shut down the state's only abortion clinic. 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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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