Birth Control Veto Overridden in Missouri

Controversy Continues over Women’s Access to Contraceptives

09/4/15 9:23 PM
Missouri Lawmakers Push Against Contraceptives

Photo by: Seattle Municipal Archives |

It is common knowledge by now that President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act has steadily been moving toward making health care readily available and affordable for all Americans. The most recent phase of this act, which is commonly known as ObamaCare, took effect on August 1 and gives women access to well-woman visits, STI counseling, contraception, and more, without requiring an additional copayment.

While many are lauding Obama’s progressive approach to female sexual health care, there has been some criticism. The most controversial aspect of this new mandate concerns women’s access to contraception. Because ObamaCare now requires insurance providers to cover the cost of birth control and sterilization procedures for women, many religious organizations have taken offense, claiming that the law infringes upon religious rights.

Missouri Votes to Provide Exemptions to Complete Coverage

In July, Governor Nixon (D) of Missouri vetoed a bill that would have exempted religiously affiliated organizations from covering access to birth control under their insurance. But on September 12, in direct opposition to both Governor Nixon and ObamaCare, Missouri lawmakers voted to override the veto and enact the controversial religious exemption. The law is the first of its kind, and it managed to pass in the House without a single vote to spare.

The new restrictions on contraception are in addition to preexisting Missouri laws. Such laws allow insurers to omit contraception from their policies if it violates their moral beliefs and prohibit the coverage of abortion in basic insurance policies. The new law reaffirms employers’ and insurers’ option of denying coverage for contraception, abortion, and sterilization for religious reason in the face of ObamaCare’s new provision. In addition, it opens the door for lawsuits based on an infringement of rights, in the event they are compelled to cover the cost of the aforementioned procedures and prescriptions.

The fight over contraception seems to be far from over. The Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women and a female firefighter filed a lawsuit directly following the override, claiming the new law not only conflicts with federal law, but also discriminates based on gender and religion. Supporters of the bill claim it does not deny access to contraception, but rather allows employers and insurers to refuse to pay for it. Opponents maintain that contraception is basic health care that should be included under any policy.

Whether you support the use of contraception or not, the importance of regular gynecological visits is undisputed. Annual check-ups could end up saving your life, so visit today for more information and to find a gynecologist near you.


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