Lawmakers dismantle Senate Bill 749
The Missouri Legislature has overridden a veto from Governor Jay Nixon concerning legislation that would have allowed consumers and businesses to opt out of insurance coverage providing benefits for certain types of birth control. The legislation, called Senate Bill 749, could have required employers to provide coverage for abortions, sterilization, and other forms of birth control through their insurance company. The Legislature voted on overriding the legislation this week with a 26-6 vote from the Senate.
Bill allows employers and individuals to opt out of insurance coverage
Senate Bill 749 is meant to address issues that the Legislature has with the Affordable Care Act. The chief of these issues is the mandatory provision of insurance coverage for contraceptive care. The bill allows individuals and businesses to opt out of receiving this coverage, though insurers are still required to provide access to this coverage per federal regulations. The Missouri Legislature has determined that Senate Bill 749 may actually lead to a decline in birth control availability and could cut off some women from receiving the contraceptive care they want.
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Legislation could threaten the availability of contraceptive care
Those opposing the bill argue that the legislation could mean some women would lose access to some forms of birth control insurance. This would happen if some employers decided to opt out of receiving coverage as part of their health insurance plans. Thus, choice regarding the accessibility of birth control and contraceptive care is determined by a business rather than the individual that might want such services. The Legislature suggests that Senate Bill 749 is not in the best interest of Missouri residents because of this possibility.
Override an issue of birth control, not religion
Supporters of Senate Bill 749 argue that the Legislature has overridden the legislation on grounds of religious belief. Representative Stacy Newman (D-St. Louis), a well known pro-life advocate and ardent conservative, notes that the move to revoke the legislation is not an issue of religion but one of birth control. Representative Newman claims that the possibility that some Missouri residents could lose access to the insurance coverage they want cannot be justified.