The Missouri Senate and House of Representatives [official websites] on Wednesday voted to override a veto Governor Jay Nixon [official website] of a bill [SB 749 materials] that prohibits mandatory insurance coverage of birth control for anyone with ethical or religious objections. The Senate voted 26-6 to override the veto, while the House narrowly secured the required endorsements [press release], voting 109-45. Representative Sandy Crawford [official profile] supported the override [statement, audio], saying the bill "protects religious liberties and prohibits businesses from being forced to provide abortions." Representative Linda Black [official profile] said the bill will not prevent abortions [statement, audio] because limiting access to contraceptives will increase abortions. Nixon vetoed the bill [JURIST report] in July, stating he supports laws that afford employers strong religious protections, but opposing SB 749 because it gives insurance companies the ability to override the religious and moral beliefs of employers and employees. The legislation will immediately take effect as law.
This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this week 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. Last month, 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 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. JURIST Guest Columnist Chad Flanders [official profile] argues that resolution of the philosophical issues underlying the controversy is unlikely and that we should seek a pragmatic solution [JURIST op-ed] to the problem.