Mid Missouri Catholics Split on Contraception Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - Some Mid Missouri Catholics agree on their religion but differ in their feelings on Senate Bill 749.

"It boggles my mind that in 2012 we are discussing whether or not birth control is basic health care for women and that we are denying health care for women," Columbia mother Chimene Schwach said.

"Our purpose was never to cut off access to contraceptives but simply to respect peoples' religious beliefs so they don't have to pay for them if they have moral objections to them," Missouri Catholic Conference Executive Director Mike Hoey said. 

The new law now allows insurance companies and employers to deny contraception based on "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

"We feel like it affirms religious liberty, that it gives people the right of conscience if they object to abortion or if they object to contraception, they can have a policy that doesnt include those things," Hoey said.

"I do not believe that SB 749 upholds any First Amendment right. It actually infringes on privacy of women," Schwach said.

Missouri is now one of 21 states to offer exemptions from contraception coverage.

One Cole County lawsuit has already stemmed from the bill's passage. The Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor United Women filed a lawsuit Sept. 12, the same day the legislature passed the bill.

Schwach hopes the law will get knocked down in court. "It's not about saving money for the employer. It's just about making decisions for women," she said.

"Ultimately we will prevail. The state law that remains is good law and the lawsuit will show that," Hoey said.