Democratic Governor Jay Nixon will let everybody know tomorrow whether or not he will veto the bill passed by the Missouri Legislature, allowing employers to opt out of contraception coverage for religious or moral reasons.
The photo above doesn't fill me with hope-- fun fact: that's Catholic nemesis Rabbi Susan Talve next to Straddlin' Jay.
JEFFERSON CITY • Will Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon sign or veto a bill that would let the state's employers choose whether to cover sterilization, abortion and contraception? We may know tomorrow.
Nixon has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Thursday in his Capitol office to discuss "additional legislative actions." He has until Saturday to sign or veto legislation passed during the last session.
The contraception bill (SB749) is among the hottest items on his desk. It would allow employers and insurers to decide not to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such procedures run contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The bill's supporters include the Catholic bishops of Missouri, the Missouri Baptist Convention and Missouri Right to Life. They argue that the law is needed to protect religious liberties threatened by the Obama administration's policy requiring contraception coverage for most insurance plans.
Organized labor and Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri are among the groups that have urged a veto. They say the bill threatens access to birth control for thousands of Missouri women and invites lawsuits by attempting to supersede federal law.
"We remain optimistic that Gov. Nixon will veto the bill," said Allison Gee, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Nixon has not revealed his position, saying only that the bill was under review.
During the legislative session, the governor's staff members tried to make sure that "medically necessary" sterilizations would still be covered under the bill. But their attempt to insert a narrow definition of sterilization failed.
In the past, Nixon has straddled the fence on abortion issues, letting two anti-abortion bills become law without his signature. But he is up for election this November and seems unlikely to take that approach this time.