Veto override session seen as crucial to religious liberty bill

Time is running out for contacting state legislators on the override of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a religious liberty bill in Missouri.

The Missouri Catholic Conference and Archdiocese of St. Louis have urged people to contact their legislators to express their views.

The veto session starts Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the Missouri Senate. SB 749, the religious liberty bill that ensures that no one is forced to pay for abortion drugs and similar items in their health insurance when it violates their religious beliefs, passed in May in the Senate by a vote of 28-6. It takes 23 votes to override the governor's veto, but some senators may not show up for the veto session unless they are urged to do so by their constituents, according to the Missouri Catholic Conference.

A similar situation exists in the House, the Catholic Conference reported. It will take 109 votes for an override in the House. There were 104 House votes to pass the bill in May, but some supporters of SB 749 were absent for that vote.

The Catholic Conference urges people to contact their legislators at home, if possible.

A statement from the Archdiocese of St. Louis called the governor's veto decision "a profound missed opportunity to assert conscience rights for Missouri citizens when those rights are in jeopardy from the federal HHS (Health and Human Service) mandate."

The "failure to sign this critically important legislation weakens the rights of Missouri citizens, leaving them without full protection of their religious liberties," the statement from the archdiocese noted. It explained that the bill would have required insurance companies to let people know up front whether a proposed policy included coverage for abortions or contraceptives: "It would have allowed those with objections on moral grounds to have insurers exclude these items from employee's health plans."

For more information, call the Catholic Conference at (800) 456-1679 or visit mocatholic.org.

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