Federal Judge Overturns Missouri Law Nullifying Contraception Mandate

By:  Michael Tennant
03/19/2013
       
Federal Judge Overturns Missouri Law Nullifying Contraception Mandate

Citing the Constitution's supremacy clause, a federal judge struck down a Missouri law allowing individuals and employers to opt out of the ObamaCare contraception mandate for moral or religious reasons.

Claiming that in a conflict between state and federal law, federal law always prevails, a federal judge overturned a Missouri law that exempted employers who object to birth control from the ObamaCare contraception mandate.

According to the Associated Press, the law, passed by the state legislature last year over the veto of Gov. Jay Nixon, “requires insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if individuals or employers assert that the use of birth control violates their ‘moral, ethical or religious beliefs.’” It was a clear attempt to counter the Obama administration’s rule that all health insurers cover contraception at no cost even where employers offering the insurance to their employees object to such coverage. The administration made exceptions for churches but not for other employers, thus demanding that those employers check their convictions at the office door.

The law was challenged by insurance providers seeking to keep themselves out of legal jeopardy. If they were to abide by the state law and write policies that did not include contraceptive coverage, they could find themselves in hot water with the federal government. On the other hand, if they were to follow the ObamaCare mandate, they would then run afoul of state law. Two insurers, in fact, had already found themselves in the latter situation, with the state insurance department seeking civil penalties against them for failing to offer plans excluding contraceptive coverage.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig, who had issued a temporary restraining order against the law in December, struck it down on March 14 on the basis that the state law “is in conflict with, and pre-empted by, existing federal law” and “could force health insurers to risk fines and penalties by choosing between compliance with state or federal law.” Fleissig, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, “emphasized that she was taking no position on the merits of the Obama administration policy,” the AP reports.

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