Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) it is urgent that Gov. Nixon protect the religious liberties of Missouri citizens by signing into law SB 749. The Court’s ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius did not consider the constitutionality of the HHS mandate, which requires health plans to cover abortion drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. For now that mandate remains law even though it likely runs afoul of the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
In response to the HHS mandate, the Missouri General Assembly this year overwhelmingly passed SB 749. This bill declares that people cannot be compelled to buy insurance policies that include coverage for abortion, contraceptives or sterilizations when this violates their moral or religious beliefs. SB 749 will allow the state of Missouri to defend its citizens in federal court from government infringements on religious liberty. As Gov. Nixon ponders the ACA ruling and whether to sign SB 749, the Missouri Catholic Conference offers the following for prayerful consideration:
Reasons Why Governor Nixon Should Sign SB 749:
• The HHS mandate is still in place after the Supreme Court decision.
• Now more than ever religious liberty is in jeopardy. Citizens have a First Amendment right to religious liberty. SB 749 helps Missourians exercise that right.
• The HHS mandate goes into effect on August 1, 2012. SB 749 goes into effect immediately once Gov. Nixon signs it. He must sign the bill now!
• People of faith and all taxpayers can have their day in court and be represented by the Missouri attorney general, once SB 749 becomes the law.
• The federal government has just gone too far. SB 749 will help citizens be protected from future government overreach.
• SB 749 makes sure insurance companies can no longer discriminate against churches and families who want to buy insurance policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs.
• Under SB 749, Missouri workers covered under group health plans can remove abortion from their insurance – even if their bosses purchased such coverage without their knowledge, forcing them to pay for it.
• By signing SB 749, Gov. Nixon can be consistent with his declared position opposing the individual mandate, which forces people to buy health insurance against their will; in this case the governor can ensure that people are not forced to pay for abortion drugs in their health plans when this violates their religious beliefs.
• Other states will look to Missouri and SB 749 as a model of how to protect religious liberty.