The AFL-CIO is mobilizing its members to contact Gov. Nixon and ask for a veto of SB 749, according to an article by the Kansas City Star. The group claims SB 749 will deny female workers access to health care services. They have dubbed SB 749 the “Birth Control Refusal Bill.” Click here to view the AFL-CIO alert message.
The AFL-CIO is misreading SB 749, or maybe not reading the bill at all. The legislation retains provisions of current law that ensure that women who want to obtain contraceptives can do so, even when their employer opts not to pay for the contraceptives. Section 376.1199, subsection 6, subdivision (3) states the following:
That an enrollee who is a member of a group health benefit plan without coverage for contraceptives has the right to purchase coverage for contraceptives.
SB 749 therefore does not deny access to health care services for women nor does it deny access to contraceptives. These are the facts that the AFL-CIO is either unaware of or is ignoring.
It is true that SB 749, while ensuring access to health care for workers, also protects the conscience rights of workers. For example, section 376.1199, subsection 6, subdivision (5) states the following:
That an enrollee who is a member of a group health plan with coverage for elective abortions has the right to exclude and not pay for coverage for elective abortions if such coverage is contrary to his or her moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.
Apparently, the AFL-CIO believes that workers should be forced to pay for elective abortions even if this violates their most cherished moral and religious convictions. This is essentially an attack on workers by an organization that claims to protect workers.
The Catholic Church has long supported the right of labor to bargain collectively and has backed laws, such as the minimum wage, that uphold the dignity of work and workers. By defending the conscience rights of workers, SB 749 builds on this tradition. SB 749 is about religious liberty and rights of conscience; it upholds these liberties and rights not just for employers but also for workers.