June 19, 2012 — More than 4,700 messages were sent to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) urging him to sign or veto a bill (SB 749) that would allow employers to refuse to provide health coverage for services -- including abortion and contraception -- that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, the Kansas City Star reports (Blank, Kansas City Star, 6/16).
Under the bill, the state attorney general could sue government officials or entities if they attempt to require employers or health plans to provide coverage that goes against their beliefs.
The final version of the bill does not include a provision approved earlier in the session that would have allowed health care providers to refuse to provide contraception or other services (Women's Health Policy Report¸ 5/22).
Nixon has until July 14 to sign or veto the bill, otherwise the measure will automatically take effect. Nixon has allowed abortion bills to become effective automatically in each of the past two years, according to the Star. Scott Holste, a spokesperson for the governor, said the bill will be "thoroughly reviewed."
In a sample of 3,100 messages reviewed by the Associated Press, the number of messages asking the governor to veto the bill were nearly double the messages urging him to sign it. Opponents of the bill sent nearly 1,000 messages between May 18 and June 6 that appeared to be modeled after a letter from the Missouri Sierra Club. Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri also have urged opponents of the bill to ask Nixon to veto it.
Catholic bishops in the state were among those who sent letters urging Nixon to sign the bill into law (Kansas City Star, 6/16).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.