Legislation denies women birth control

ON Wednesday, Sep. 12, the Missouri legislature overrode a veto on bill SB-749, known as the Birth Control Refusal Bill. The bill concerns insurance coverage for birth control. It denies women access to birth control from employers who have a religious or moral objection to contraceptives.

The legislation was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon and the veto was then overridden by the Missouri Senate by 26-6 and the Missouri House of Representatives by 109-45, the minimum needed to override. The bill was supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
According to a poll done by Guttmacher Institute, approximately 700,000 women in Missouri use some form of birth control.

Without birth control coverage from employers, many women will have to pay $15 to $50 a month on top of their insurance premiums in order to have access to contraceptives.

Summer Perlow, senior, said she stopped buying supplies from Hobby Lobby because they didn’t provide women health care coverage for birth control. Perlow said birth control should not be discriminated upon by the employer.

“I don’t believe any congressman has the right to control what I choose to do with my body,” Perlow said, “Women have the right to contraceptives if they choose, and anyone who doesn’t believe in the use of contraceptives doesn’t have to use them.”

According to a Guttmacher Institute poll done in 2010, 56 percent of sexually active teenage girls use birth control pills.

“Obviously this is a very touchy issue, but I sincerely hope that the presence of strong religious views in Congress do not skew the rights of women to use contraceptives,” Perlow said.

Perlow said she joined a Facebook group called “If you can’t say it, don’t legislate it” when a woman was kicked off the floor in Congress for using the word “vagina.”

Missouri Representative Paul Curtman said religious institutions have always had the freedom to deny birth control access to women in the past. Curtman said the legislation was in response to the federal mandate.

“I voted for this bill because I don’t think the government has ownership over someone’s religious conscience,” Representative Paul Curtman said. “The government should cooperate with people of faith, not force them.”

The law was in response to the new federal contraceptive mandate that requires insurers to cover birth control at no additional cost to women, including those employed by religiously affiliated non-profits like hospitals, colleges and charities. The bill also gives the state attorney general the grounds to file lawsuits claiming an infringement of rights if employers are compelled to cover contraception.

“The governor vetoed this bill because he wanted to cooperate with the president, not with the 31 percent of Missourians who said they would opt out of Obamacare,” Representative Curtman said.

The law has brought some controversy, especially from women’s rights activists and organizations like Planned Parenthood.

According to the Washington Post-ABC News Poll done in March of 2012, 61 percent of Americans across the United States think insurance companies should cover the full cost of birth control for women.

“The Missouri legislature, beholden to lobbyists that see an abortion in every birth control pill, has done a huge disservice to all Missouri women,” Peter Brownlie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said at a press conference.