News Contraception

Women’s Labor Union Sues To Stop Missouri Law Allowing Employers to Deny Contraceptive Coverage

Robin Marty

The state legislature passed it.  The governor vetoed it.  The legislature overrode it.  Now, one labor group steps in to sue the state's contraceptive coverage refusal law from going into effect.

The battle over the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, requiring that insurance companies provide coverage for contraception without a co-pay, has been heated in Missouri. The legislature passed a bill to make it easier for companies to eliminate coverage of contraception in their employee health plans, and the governor vetoed it. 

The House and Senate together over-rode Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto, making the state the only one in the country to directly challenge the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all health care plans, including those offered by employers, must provide contraceptive coverage. Still, the battle over coverage is not over, as a local labor groups steps in and sues to block the bill from going into effect.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, The Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women has filed suit against the bill that expands “religious objection” protections for those who don’t want to cover contraceptive care, arguing that the state cannot trump federal law, and the Missouri bill directly and intentionally conflicts with the Affordable Care Act.

“We are coming fast out of the gate on this to show that labor is going to put its foot down on attempts to divide workers and deny workers their right to heath care,” said Edward Keenan, a labor lawyer with Keenan Law Firm in Kansas City who is representing the union in the lawsuit.

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“We consider this move to be just another right wing assault on workers — limiting our members’ options and choices,” Keenan said.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 700,000 women in Missouri use birth control.

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