Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today vetoed a bill that would have allowed employers in Missouri to refuse to provide health insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization or abortion.
The bill, passed by the Republican-led Legislature, was seen as a direct attack on the Obama administration's health care law, which pushed a policy that required employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives to their workers.
In vetoing the measure, Nixon said Missouri law already has for more than a decade given employers the freedom to omit contraceptive coverage in their health plans “if the use or provision of such contraceptives is contrary to the moral, ethical or religious beliefs or tenets of such person or entity.”
The bill Nixon vetoed, however, contained a provision that would have given insurance companies the power to deny inclusion of contraception coverage “even if that position is inconsistent with the rights and beliefs of the employee or employer,” the governor said.
“The moral, ethical and religious beliefs of Missourians, that are currently honored, should not become secondary to the will of an insurance company,” Nixon, a Democrat, said in his veto message. “Such an effort would signal a retreat from the liberties enjoyed by employers and employees under the current law.”
The bill’s supporters included Missouri Right to Life and Catholic bishops. Opponents included Planned Parenthood.
Nixon's office reportedly received more than 10,000 messages in recent days urging him to sign or veto the legislation.
Nixon's announcement comes a couple days ahead of a Saturday deadline for him to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.
The Star will update with further developments.