JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, September 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-lifers and religious liberty advocates tasted victory yesterday when the Missouri legislature overrode a veto by Governor Jay Nixon on Senate bill 749. The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both the state’s House and Senate earlier this summer, provides conscience protections for any person with religious or moral convictions relating to surgical and medical abortion, contraceptives, or sterilizations.
Individuals, employees and employers in the state of Missouri, by the passage of this law, will not be required to participate in, provide, pay for, or provide referrals for any health plans or services or services that cover those services, nor will it be lawful for such persons to be discriminated against or penalized by any government agency.
The bill was vetoed by Governor Nixon on July 12, which surprised some in light of his record of allowing previous pro-life bills to pass without his signature by allowing the 45-day veto period to elapse. It was in this way that Missouri’s late term abortion ban became law just last year.
In yesterday’s special veto session, the Senate voted 26-6 and the House 109-45 in defense of the bill, which was written in response to the federal HHS mandate issued by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that took effect in August. The narrow religious exemptions in the mandate left individuals and non-religiously-affiliated employers outside its purview and subject to complying with its controversial requirements. Individual conscientious objectors, whether employer or employee in the state of Missouri, are now protected from the mandate unless possible federal court decisions rule otherwise.
The Missouri Catholic Conference, long-time backers of the bill, applauded the override in a statement issued immediately following the vote. In it the conference states, “This is a victory for Catholics, people of all faiths, and more specifically, Missouri citizens who value religious liberty.” Celebrating the pro-life victory, the conference added, “Today’s override is a powerful pro-life statement, one that gives us hope that conscience rights will be extended to all U.S. citizens. We thank the people of Missouri for your prayers and for your tireless efforts to protect our first, most-cherished freedom.”
Contact information for Office of Governor Jay Nixon:
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-3222