Missouri attorney general refuses to appeal birth control ruling

04/12/2013 12:18 AM

05/20/2014 10:42 AM

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster won’t appeal a federal court’s ruling that struck down a Missouri law allowing employers to refuse to provide health insurance coverage for birth control if doing so violates their religious convictions.

The law was passed last year in response to an Obama administration policy that requires health insurance plans to cover contraception. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, but that veto was overturned by Republican lawmakers a few months later.

A judge ruled last month that the Missouri law conflicted with the federal health care law and therefore it was not enforceable.

Despite pleas from Republicans, Koster announced Thursday he would not seek an appeal of that decision.

“The Republicans’ attempt to deny contraceptive coverage to women in Missouri is just plain foolishness,” Koster said, adding that it also “cannot be supported by case law or sound public policy.”

Koster said he would ask the judge to revise the ruling to ensure that religious institutions can receive the same exceptions they currently have under federal law.

On the same day Koster made his announcement, the Missouri House passed a nonbinding resolution demanding an appeal. House Speaker Tim Jones, a Eureka Republican, said the judge in the case made a mistake, and subsequent courts would ultimately decide Missouri’s law is valid.

The contraception mandate, Jones contends, violates Missourians’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, nearly 700,000 women in Missouri use some form of birth control.

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