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'Victory for Missouri Women': Judge Strikes Down Birth Control Exemption

Advocate: "This ruling ensures that all Missouri women—no matter who their boss is—have access to basic preventive health care. This is a decision for women."

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

A federal judge has overturned a Missouri law which exempted employers from mandatory birth control coverage.

(Photo: Selbe B via Flickr) Citing a provision in the US constitution which declares that federal laws take precedence over contradictory state laws, US district judge Audrey Fleissig ruled the exemption unlawful because it conflicts with an Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers cover contraception at no additional cost to women.

Though the ruling was dated Thursday of last week, it was not made public until Monday.

"This is a victory for Missouri women and their families," said Peter Brownlie, President of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in a statement. "This ruling ensures that all Missouri women—no matter who their boss is—have access to basic preventive health care without a co-pay, including birth control. This is a decision for women, not their bosses to make. Bosses don't have to take birth control, and they don't have to pay for it - and thanks to the Federal court ruling, they can't decide whether the women who work for them are able to have birth control covered by their insurance like any other prescription." 

The Missouri version of the law required 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."

According to the Associated Press, the law "which appeared to be the first in the nation to directly rebut the Obama administration's contraception policy," was previously vetoed by Democratic governor Jay Nixon until the state's Republican-led Legislature overrode the veto last September to enact the law.

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