Thomas More Society Religious Exemption Victory for State Legislator Yields Broad Protection
Our clients, Missouri State Senator Paul Wieland and his family, enrolled in a healthcare plan that does not impose abortifacients/contraceptive/sterilization coverage in 2016. This followed the Thomas More Society’s victory on their behalf in federal court. Starting in November of 2017, opting out of abortion coverage is a choice available to all state employees.
The battle, which pitted Thomas More Society attorneys against the Obama administration, was a case brought by a private citizen based on the same legal principles upheld in the United States Supreme Court case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius: that religious rights cannot be usurped under the Affordable Care Act.
As a result of our efforts, Missouri passed a state law that allows state employees the right to decline or refuse coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization if these items or procedures are contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Following Thomas More Society’s victory in Paul Joseph Wieland, et al. v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al., the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan now offers a benefit plan option excluding these services. The option is available to all Missouri state employees and their dependents, except for those on Medicare.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Timothy Belz stated, “We are pleased that religious liberty has prevailed and that Senator Wieland’s victory has resulted in a benefit to all Missouri state employees. It also frees Missouri taxpayers from having to foot the bill for abortions and contraception that they object to.”
“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,” Belz added. “The Thomas More Society will continue its vigorous defense of religious liberty on multiple fronts.”
“Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan now offers everyone the option that the court dictated for us,” explained Senator 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. The victory that the Thomas More Society helped obtain for my family is now a victory for all Missourians.”
Read more about the Thomas More Society’s role in defending the Wieland family’s religious liberty here