Missouri protection of conscience bill passes House of Representatives

House Bill 1430 has passed the Missouri House of Representatives by a vote of 112-38.  The bill largely replicates one that passed the House in 2013 but failed to pass the state Senate.  It is a procedure-specific bill that provides protection of conscience for individuals and institutions. [LifeNews]

Missouri House Bill 1430 introduced

Representative Timothy Jones has introduced House Bill 1430 in the Missouri House of Representatives.  The bill largely replicates one that passed the House in 2013 but failed to pass the state Senate.  It is a procedure-specific bill that provides protection of conscience for individuals and institutions.

Protection of conscience measure moves forward in Missouri

By a vote of 118-42, the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB 457.  A second vote is required before the bill can move to the state senate for consideration.  The bill provides protection for individuals and institutions with respect to abortion, sterilization that is not medically necessary, embryonic stem cell research, assisted reproduction and contraception. [Associated Press]

Update on American HHS birth control mandate controversy: January, 2013

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed a lawsuit against the regulation on behalf of two Ohio companies [Lifenews]. A U.S. District Judge has dismissed suits  filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and four other Catholic nonprofit groups on the grounds that the suits are premature [Bloomberg] Lawsuits filed by Colorado Christian University and Notre Dame University in Indiana have also been dismissed [The Coloradoan; First Things].  The Catholic diocese of Nashville, Tennessee and seven other groups in the state are appealing a lower court ruling against them[The Tennessean].  In Illinois, a temporary injunction has been granted against state legislation that is similar to the HHS regulation because the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Health Care Right of Conscience Act [Georgia Bulletin].  However, the U.S. federal government is appealing a decision to grant a temporary injunction against the HHS regulation to Tyndale House Publishers Inc. of Illinois [Bloomberg].A temporary injunction against the HHS regulation has been granted to a Missouri company, Sharpe Holdings Inc., the third such injunction granted in the state [St. Louis Beacon].    Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attracted criticism because of his remarks to the effect that the nature of the HHS regulation will only become apparent if people go to jail for refusing to obey it [Reason.com]

For a map and up-to-date overview of lawsuits filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, see the Becket Fund’s HHS Information Central.

Update on American HHS birth control mandate controversy

On 14 December, Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, filed a lawsuit against the HHS regulation [Associated Press].  Five days later, a federal appeals court reinstated lawsuits filed by Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey that had been dismissed by a lower court.  The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered the Obama administration to report every sixty days on its progress in redrafting the regulation to accommodate employers with religious objections to providing insurance for birth control.[Life News]  News of the Wheaton and Belmont decisions came too late for inclusion in a column in the  New England Journal of Medicine, which outlined the litigation and the issues.The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling that Hobby Lobby must comply with the mandate because it does not impose a “substantial burden” on the exercise of freedom of religion by the company’s owner. [The Hill]  In contrast, O’Brien Industrial Holdings of Missouri was granted an injunction by an appeals court that prohibits the federal government from enforcing the regulation.  The decision overturns a lower court ruling [The Foundry, 3 December].  A similar injunction was granted to the Griesedieck family‘s American Pulverizer Company in Minnesota [National Review] Commenting that there is no “trust us changes are coming” clause in the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge in New York upheld the right of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to proceed with its lawsuit against the mandate. [Becket Fund, 6 December]    Meanwhile, the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious order that provides nursing care to the elderly poor in 30 American cities, is considering the possiblity of leaving the United States if the current regulation stands. [LifeSite News]

Appeal of Missouri court ruling on HHS birth control mandate

U.S. District Judge Carole Jackson of St. Louis has dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate brought by Frank O’Brien and his company, O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC of St. Louis.  The suit challenged the federal government regulation that requires O’Brien to provide employees with insurance for contraceptives, embryocides and surgical sterilization.  A Catholic, O’Brien objects to facilitating any of the services for religious reasons.  The judge ruled that the indirect support did not substantially burden the free exercise of O’Brien’s religious beliefs.  Lawyer Frank Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice has filed an appeal on behalf of O’Brien.  [ACLJ comment][St. Louis-Post Dispatch][Religion Dispatches]


Missouri House and Senate pass protection of conscience bills

House Bill 1541 has been passed by the Missouri House of Representatives.  The bill defines ‘conscience’ as “the religious, moral, or ethical principles held by a medical professional or a health care institution.”  The bill ensures that individuals and institutions cannot be compelled to participate in a number of defined procedures or research activities to which they object for reasons of conscience, and protects them against discrimination. Meanwhile, the Missouri Senate passed SB749, a bill drafted to prevent employers from being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization.[Missourian]


Bills in states proposed in reaction to controversial federal birth control mandate

Following a hearing held by a committee of the Idaho legislature, Rep. Carlos Bilbao will revise a bill he has proposed to prevent a federal birth control regulation from forcing objecting employers to provide insurance for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and embryocidal drugs. [Deseret News]  Senator John Moolenaar has introduced the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act in the Michigan state legislature [Midland Daily News].  It is a broad protection of conscience bill that covers individual health care providers and facilities,both with respect to direct participation and direct or indirect payment for objectionable procedures. Bills have also been proposed in Missouri and Arizona to counter the federal regulation.  If the bills pass, the federal government may go to court to have them struck down in order to enforce the federal law.  [ABC News]


Protection of conscience bill introduced in Missouri

Missouri Senate Bill 657 is drafted to prevent health care workers or institutions from being compelled to participate in any service or procedure to which they object for reasons of conscience.  It is intended to protect them against criminal, civil and administrative proceedings, and from discrimination for the exercise of their convictions.[Lifenews]