JEFFERSON CITY – A General Assembly-passed bill protecting employers from being required to buy insurance for abortions, contraception or sterilizations for their employees if they object on religious grounds is awaiting a decision by Gov. Jay Nixon, who has until July 14 to decide whether or not to sign it into law. It is possible Nixon may choose not to sign Senate Bill 749, thus allowing it to become law.
Pro-abortion and other liberal groups are pressuring Nixon to veto it. The Missouri Chapter of the Secular Coalition for America along with Planned Parenthood, the AFLCIO, the Sierra Club and the National Council of Jewish Women are among the groups opposing the bill, which passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate in May. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County.
It is unclear what impact the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on ObamaCare could have on the Missouri law, since ObamaCare requires religious institutions to provide abortion coverage in their health insurance plans to employees, even if it is against their religious beliefs. It will directly impact Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange University and the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.
In a surprise move just days before the Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare, Nixon distanced himself from the president’s health care plan fueling speculation about the governor ’s decision on SB 749.
“I think I’ve been pretty clear … that the health insurance mandate is not something that I think is a good thing,” Nixon said. “Without going into great detail, having the government um … um … order you to buy something like that is not something that in the past I’ve supported.”
Meanwhile, Missouri Baptist leaders turned their attention to the ObamaCare ruling, warning of its infringement on religious liberty.
“We are grieved by the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Health Act, particularly the court’s ruling to uphold the mandate that health insurance plans cover contraceptives that may cause abortions,” said Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director John Yeats. “Through the health-care act, the president and his administration have declared war on religion and freedom of conscience. And sadly, the Supreme Court is a party to this injustice. The court’s actions reflect the secularization of our society and the marginalization of people of faith.
“This is a defining moment for our nation, and a grave threat to the religious liberty and freedom of conscience that all Americans have enjoyed for more than two centuries. We ask all citizens to join us in praying for those who, for the sake of conscience, will choose to obey God rather than men. “At the same time, we understand there are many people in Missouri and throughout the nation that suffer physically and financially because they are unable to obtain medical coverage due to pre-existing conditions or portability issues. We are greatly concerned for hurting people and believe the president and the Congress should work together to address these provisions without creating a Constitutional crisis.”
MBC Legislative Liasion Kerry Messer said the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act may or may not factor into what the governor will do with SB 749. Ultimately he still wields the veto pen, but there is another factor to consider.
“A sleeping giant has already been awakened and the American people, including Missourians, are outraged,” Messer said. “Nov. 6 is the day to watch. The court ruling is the opinion of nine justices, but millions of voters get their day, too. This is why we are still the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”