News Contraception

Missouri Gov Nixon Vetoes State-Level Blunt Amendment; Legislators Fight to Override

Robin Marty

Although Governor Nixon vetoed the state's bill to allow employers to deny birth control coverage, the legislature is certain that they can override his veto tomorrow.

The constantly ringing phones and uptick in passionate emails means only one thing– there is an override in the works, and the numbers are very, very close.

Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon isn’t usually one to veto anti-choice legislation passed by the predominately conservative state legislature. Although the Democrat is unlikely to actually sign a bill into law, he’s often let them simply meander into law, refusing to either endorse bills that limit women’s rights or outright condemn legislation supported by such a vast number of state lawmakers.

It was with that past history in mind that Missouri advocates on both sides of the birth control divide watched anxiously as Nixon waited until the near final moments before vetoing the state’s new local version of the national Blunt Amendment, a bill that would allow employers and insurers to deny coverage of abortions, sterilization, or birth control in an insurance plan due to religious beliefs or moral objections.

Stating that the bill would allow others to “deny inclusion of contraceptive coverage, even if that position is inconsistent with the rights and beliefs of the employee or employer,” Nixon finally vetoed the bill, saying “we want families making these decisions–not insurance companies.”

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Now, the legislature is rallying to overthrow the decision of the governor and families, and reinstate a law allowing employers to prohibit contraception coverage in employee health plans. In Wednesday’s annual veto override session, lawmakers will be looking at overriding Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 749 and put the law into effect over the Governor’s objections. The bill passed originally with a veto-proof majority in the Senate, and a few votes shy of a veto proof majority in the House, which leaves both sides shoring up their support in an urgent call to action. It is a case in which literally every vote will count.

“I think it’s going to be close,” said Michelle Trupiano, Statewide Manager of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Missouri.

“The more that legislators understand what this bill is really about, and that’s about the economic impact of birth control on women and their families, the more they are leaning towards sustaining the governor’s veto.  But there is still work to be done, and we have less than 24 hours to do it.”

“Everyone should call and email their legislators,” Trupiano urged. “They are listening to their constituents. “Legislators are saying, ‘Oh, I’ve had so many calls to ask me to veto override and so many people asking me to sustain.’ So people really need to get on the phones and tell them to stand up for women’s health.”

The veto vote is expected on Wednesday at noon, central time.

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