Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Greater Kansas City Chapter Files Court Action to Stop Missouri Employers from Denying Birth Control to Workers
Reproductive Rights Important Issue in 2012 Election
Karen J. See, Coalition of Labor Union Women National President remarks,” Women made a major difference in this election and the onslaught of attacks on women and labor made the issues that much sharper. I am proud of our members and the courage shown by our Greater Kansas City Chapter in taking action to prevent implementation of a bill that would be harmful to working women in Missouri.”
According to exit poll data analysis by the Center for Women and Politics of Rutgers University a majority of women (55%) cast their ballots for President Obama, while a majority of men (52%) voted for Governor Romney.
Laura Bassett in a November 7th piece in the Huffington Post concluded that, “Romney seemed to struggle to connect with women as a result of the GOP's escalating efforts to limit women's reproductive rights and a series of controversial comments from Republicans about rape, birth control and abortion. Romney, in particular, alienated many female voters by dodging questions about equal pay legislation, pledging to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade, and backing legislation that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage.”
Missouri legislators failed to recognize a woman’s reproductive rights throughout the year.
On January 20, the Obama administration announced that it would protect access to affordable birth control under the Affordable Care Act ensuring that millions of women will have access to affordable birth control, including those employed by a religiously affiliated hospital, university, or organization.
However, Senator Roy Blunt (R- MO) sponsored an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service based on moral reasons. The Senate voted 51-48 on March 1st to reject the amendment.
Meanwhile Missouri state legislators introduced SB 749 on Feb. 2nd that makes it possible for any "employer, health plan provider, health plan sponsor, health care provider, or any other person or entity" to refuse to provide coverage for contraception, abortion, or sterilization.
The Missouri AFL-CIO stated, ” SB 749,.. would allow bosses to deny workers access to birth control, an “unacceptable erosion of workers' rights on the job.”
On July 12th Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed Senate Bill 749 and on September 12th both houses of the Missouri legislature voted to override the governor’s veto.
Immediately after Michele Newby, Chapter President and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women filed in the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri seeking an injunction to prevent implementation of the bill. Among other things, the lawsuit claims the Missouri measure conflicts with the Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to cover contraception without co-pays or deductibles. Michele Newby remarked, “ Taking this action is the right thing to do and is what CLUW is about. Working women should be able to make health care choices regardless of where they work and without employer interference. This is a work place issue and we are glad to be defending the rights of working women.” Michele Newby is a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters and serves as a National Vice President on the CLUW National Officers Council
The case has not yet been scheduled for hearing.
To read about CLUW's activity on this issue as well as the AFL-CIO's support of contraceptive equity and access please click here.