A Missouri state lawmaker’s personal battle with the Obama administration over its requirement that employers fund abortions has resulted in the passage of a law that allows any state employee to opt out of health insurance coverage for the procedure.
The new law allows state employees to refuse coverage for abortion, contraception, abortion-causing drugs or sterilization “if these items or procedures are contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions,” said the Thomas More Society.
The organization represented Missouri state Sen. Paul Wieland and his family in a case against the Obamacare requirement.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals relieved the Wieland family from the requirement after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The high court ruled the government cannot force the owners of for-profit companies to pay for something that violates their religious faith. The Wieland ruling applied that right to families.
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It was after the court decision in favor of the Wieland family that the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan created an offering that excludes benefits for abortions.
“We are pleased that religious liberty has prevailed and that Sen. Wieland’s victory has resulted in a benefit to all Missouri state employees,” said Timothy Belz, special counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It also frees Missouri taxpayers from having to foot the bill for abortions and contraception that they object to.
Belz explained that Missouri has “the most comprehensive protection of any state in the nation of the religious beliefs and moral convictions of those who do not want abortion, contraception or sterilization coverage in their health plans.”
“Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan now offers everyone the option that the court dictated for us,” said Wieland. “It is incumbent upon government to respect the religious beliefs of individuals and families. Appropriate health care coverage should never violate our religious liberties.”
Shortly after the Hobby Lobby case, Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president, argued the precedent for business owners also should apply to individuals and families.
The Wielands’ 2013 lawsuit challenged Obama’s mandate because it caused them to lose their existing health insurance that excluded abortion coverage.
The lawsuit was against the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Treasury and Department of Labor. Belz asserted at the time that Obamacare was forcing people “to participate in something they consider an intrinsic evil.”
“Their religious faith defines abortion as the intentional destruction of innocent humanlife, and the Wielands belief that it is gravely immoral.”
The Obama administration, he said, “ignored the rights of individuals, such as the Wielands, who hold sincere religious beliefs that condemn abortion and any medication or procedure that causes abortion.”