Oh yes, let's make the governor's race all about birth control
The Kansas City Star
Missouri Republicans are gearing up to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that, as Nixon correctly noted, would enable health insurers to omit birth control coverage from insurance policies, even if employers and policy holders want it.
You can bet that every House Republican will be called upon to vote for that override in order to achieve the required two-thirds majority. It won’t be optional. The Senate appears already to have the votes.
But what will that prove? Only that the Missouri legislature is so extreme, so political, and so out of step with ordinary people that they will overthrow a governor’s veto that makes ultimate sense.
Lest anyone has slipped into a time warp, let us remember that this is the year 2012. Is the electorate really going to buy into the Republicans’ mission to make birth control an issue in the gubernatorial campaign? Outside of the capitol, I think we are well beyond that point.
Republican legislators and Nixon’s Republican opponent will waste a lot of oxygen huffing about the governor’s assault on religious freedom, which is nonsense. As Nixon noted in his veto message, state law already enables employers and consumers to opt out of insurer-provided birth control coverage if they have a genuine religious or moral objection.
The difference with the bill that Nixon vetoed is that employers could opt out just because they don’t feel like covering contraception, and so could insurers. Nixon didn’t cite this as a reason for his veto, but there’s also the small matter that Missouri can’t really empower people to defy federal law, much as the nuttier Republicans in the legislature would like to do so.
Nixon was going to anger significant numbers of people no matter what he did about Senate Bill 749. Democrats, unions and women’s groups would have been furious if he had signed it, or even allowed it to become law without his signature. Now conservatives and religious groups are upset with the veto.
But give the governor credit. He vetoed the bill publicly, and delivered a reasoned, coherent argument, the crux of it being that “the moral, ethical and religious beliefs of Missourians, that are currently honored, should not become secondary to the will of an insurance company.”