Missouri lawmaker sues to personally exempt his family from the contraception mandate

Paul WiedlandMissouri state Rep. Paul Wieland and his wife used to opt out coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion services in their state insurance plan. But under Obamacare, the plan is required to cover birth control and they can no longer do so. The Wiedlands have filed a lawsuit, saying their religious freedom is being violated and asking for a personal exemption to the contraceptive coverage mandate.

Rep. Wieland explains, “I see abortion-inducing drugs as intrinsically evil, and I cannot in good conscience preach one thing to my kids and then just go with the flow on our insurance. This is a moral conundrum for me. Do I just cancel the coverage and put my family at risk? I don’t believe in what the government is doing.”

Wiedland’s “moral conundrum” seems to be a partially a factual one. Emergency contraception, which is a form of birth control, is covered under the mandate. But “abortion-inducing drugs” are not. (Many private insurance plans do cover abortion services because it’s smart policy–although state legislatures are doing their damndest to ban coverage of abortion in their state exchanges.) And, of course, the logical alternative to canceling his coverage and putting his family at risk is to simply refrain from using the birth control that’s now available without a co-pay. Talk about an easy fix. But I’m guessing Wiedland isn’t actually looking for a solution to this conundrum. 

While there’s been tons of legal challenges to the mandate, the Weidlands’ may be the first by individuals seeking exemption from a group plan. But in a previous lawsuit brought by an employer , the judge ruled that the right to religious belief “is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others.” (Ya don’t say!) So perhaps this case will come down to whether Weidland and his wife have a right to force their beliefs on their three daughters, who are also covered by the plan. Here’s hoping their right to keep themselves safe from unintended pregnancies is protected.

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Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    I don’t think it’s as simple as refraining when you have a moral dilemma. Let’s assume that under johncare, which was adopted throughout the country, a controversial form of sex therapy was mandated to be covered, prostitution. Let’s say prostitution became legal, but was unregulated so we know that there’s wide spread abuse of the workers. Would you say simply refrain if you have a moral problem with it? There are legitimate reasons to criticize the anti-choice positions. We don’t need to stretch.