On Tuesday, that point was aired in a senate committee hearing.
Senator John Lamping (R-St. Louis County) has offered a bill that would allow employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control. The Bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City, John Gaydos, testified in favor of the bill. He illustrated the Church’s view on the issue.
“If we’ve learned in recent weeks, it’s that we should not trust our religious liberties to federal regulators,” Gaydos said. “Without clear guidance from the new federal healthcare law, regulators proceeded to write a rule that violates the moral and religious convictions of Americans.”
Read Lamping’s legislation, SB749.
Gaydos spoke on behalf of the state’s Catholic bishops. He said the Senate bill, “will place in state law a strong and clear prohibition on government infringement on religious liberty and send a strong message to Congress that Missouri opposes the federal government trampling on our religious freedom.”
The bishop says some have suggested that the church avoid curtailing religious liberty by offering healthcare, education and charity only to Catholics. Gaydos says that won’t do.
“Those who make such a suggestion do not understand what it means to be a Roman Catholic,” he says. “Our faith requires us to reach out to all people in need, not just Catholics. This is our mission. We will not retreat from it.”
Gaydos said the mandate would also force employers, including the Church, to pay for sterilization procedures and abortion drugs.
Planned Parenthood Lobbyist Michelle Trupiano testified against the bill. She says the claim that the federal benefit pays for abortion drugs is a “myth.” She said birth control is good preventive care with positive health benefits for women and their families.
“Increased access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality as well as other health benefits,” she says. “It’s not always used just to prevent pregnancy. Women should not be denied access to this benefit just because they work for a religious employer.”
The bill advanced out of the committee and now goes to the full Senate.
AUDIO: Bishop John Gaydos testifies (3:45)