Birth Control: Court Overturns Missouri Law Allowing Moral, Religious Coverage Exemptions

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Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, offered this statement yesterday afternoon:

This is a victory for Missouri women and their families. This ruling ensures that all Missouri women -- no matter who their boss is -- have access to basic preventive health care without a co-pay, including birth control.

Butler says that Missouri has not had a dispute quite like this one before. "This is unique to Missouri as far as the state law being so contradictory to the federal law in that kind of detail." That's why it was necessary for the court to provide clarity, he says, pointing out that the Missouri Insurance Coalition, for which he is the government affairs director, did not have an opinion on the underlying policy debate around health care coverage for contraception.

The judge also makes clear in her ruling that the decision is based on the contradiction of state and federal law and not the health care debate, writing, "The Court takes no position on the merits of the conflicting laws."

The ruling is similar to a federal decision earlier this year to dismiss a lawsuit from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities that directly challenged the federal government over the constitutionality of a health care contraception mandate.

It's not clear yet if this is the end of the legal battle around the state law. The Missouri attorney general could appeal the decision, but for now it seems the law will now be invalid.

In response to an inquiry from Daily RFT about the decision, a spokeswoman for the attorney general says only, "We are reviewing the ruling."

Continue for the full decision and for the full response from Planned Parenthood.

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