...and a partial transcript of Governor Jay Nixon's remarks:
Among other bills, I am vetoing Senate Bill 749. As a person of faith, I cherish the freedom we all have to worship in accordance with our own beliefs. Our churches should be free from the encroachment of government and politics.
For more than a decade, Missouri law has provided strong religious and moral protections to safeguard the beliefs of employees and employers regarding contraceptive coverage. Those protections apply whether the employer is a church or religious organization, or not. Either way, religious and moral beliefs are protected.
These protections are strong. They’re effective. And they have my support.
Under our existing law, employees and employers can already opt out of providing or receiving contraceptive coverage if doing so conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.
At the same time, our existing law also acknowledges the rights of women and families who want to access contraception.
For employees whose companies have chosen to invoke our religious or moral protections, current law also ensures that women and families who want contraceptive coverage can get it – a right that I also support.
Our existing law protects religious liberties – and it respects individual rights. The current law was passed overwhelmingly. It’s been on the books for years. And it works.
The additional provisions included in Senate Bill 749 – such as the notice requirement for individual policies – are worthwhile ideas that deserve continued discussion.
But one significant – and negative – change within Senate Bill 749 requires my veto today.
For the first time, this bill would allow insurance companies to impose their will, and deny contraceptive coverage to women – even if women and their employers want it included.
This bill would allow insurance companies to override the rights and beliefs of employees and employers.
By doing so, the bill would shift authority to make decisions about access to contraceptive coverage away from Missouri women, families and employers – and put that power in the hands of insurance companies. That would be a step backward for Missouri.
This could also set a dangerous precedent for the future and other types of health care services, such as end-of-life care or cancer screenings.
We want families making these decisions – not insurance companies. For that reason, I am vetoing this bill.
Again, Missouri law already provides strong religious and moral protections. Missouri law also respects the rights of women and families to access contraception. And insurance companies should not have the power to overrule that right.
If the legislature were to pass a bill that includes the additional notice requirement for insurance policies, without limiting access to contraception or shifting authority to insurance companies, I would give that bill serious consideration.
And I’m certainly open to discussions about what that bill would need to look like.