The Missouri Catholic Conference this week expressed grave disappointment in Attorney General Chris Koster’s refusal to appeal a St. Louis federal judge’s ruling striking down the conscience protections in SB 749, the law protecting the religious liberty of all Missouri citizens passed last fall overwhelmingly by the Missouri General Assembly.
Over the last six months, there have been four federal court decisions in cases brought by Missouri business owners blocking enforcement of the HHS contraceptive and abortion drug mandate. A direct appeal of the order striking down SB 749 would have been the best way to defend Missouri law and the religious liberty of Missouri citizens.
Persons of faith should not be compelled to participate in acts which violate their conscience. As Pope John Paul II stated in the Gospel of Life, “[t]o refuse to take part in an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right.” (No. 74) This idea has been a basic tenet of U.S. law and is enshrined in the free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment and is recognized in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
The Missouri Catholic Conference is confident that the ongoing litigation challenging the HHS mandate will ultimately vindicate the conscience protections in Missouri law that were struck down.