State Senate Committee Votes on Birth Control Bill

Related Story

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) -- Debate over birth control is building within Missouri's Capitol.

A state Senate committee endorsed legislation Tuesday allowing employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control, abortions or sterilization procedures, if doing so would go against an employer's religious beliefs.

The committee backed the measure in a 6-2 vote.

Sponsoring Sen. John Lamping, a St. Louis County Republican, says health insurance is a benefit and that employers should decide how it is structured. Representatives for Catholic and Baptist churches say they also support the measure.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Missouri says Lamping's proposal would make it harder for employees to get certain medical treatments, even if the employees don't have the same religious beliefs as their employer.

The measure now goes to the full Senate.

The Missouri version of the bill has the potential to push further than the federal version. The state bill would allow any employer to refuse to provide the coverage. The federal version only applies to religiously-affiliated employers. Insurance companies, rather than the employers, would have to provide the coverage.

KOMU 8 reached out to numerous local Catholic priests and deacons Thursday, but none of them responded. John Gaydos, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City said, "If there's one thing we've learned in recent works, it's that we should not trust our religious liberty to federal regulators."