Newly elected House Speaker Tim Jones, a Eureka Republican, said he's confident the law will ultimately be upheld by the courts. "I think our statute is constitutionally defensible," Jones said.
Critics of the bill warned it would likely lead to numerous lawsuits, pointing out that insurance companies would be forced to choose between violating state or federal law. But more importantly, they argued that it would limit a woman's access to birth control.
"Women depend on family planning and birth control access to plan their families, which determines their economic status," said state Rep. Stacey Newman, a Richmond Heights Democrat. "Women are listening, and they are watching what we do here today."
State Rep. Sandy Crawford, a Buffalo Republican and the bill's House sponsor, said there is nothing in the new law that would prevent women from obtaining birth control. They would just have to pay for it themselves, she said.
"This bill is about protecting our religious liberties," Crawford said. "This bill does not prohibit the sale or purchase of contraception."
But making it more difficult to obtain birth control could put many women and families in a difficult fiscal situation, said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
"Birth control is not just basic, preventive health care for women, it is a pocketbook issue," Brownlie said. "Without this new birth control coverage benefit, many women will now have to continue paying $15 to $50 a month on top of their premium. When you live paycheck to paycheck, that's a lot of money."
According to the reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 700,000 women in Missouri use some form of birth control.
In urging her colleagues to support the governor's veto, state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, said anyone who opposes abortion should support making contraception more readily available to women.
"If you are pro-life, be pro-life. That's OK," Nasheed said. "But tell the truth. Contraception is not the same as abortion. In fact, contraception prevents abortion and unwanted children."
This is the second time Nixon has seen one of his vetoes overturned, and only the 24th veto override in the state's history. Since 1900, the General Assembly had managed to override a governor's veto only seven times before Wednesday's vote.
Lawmakers also were expected to attempt to override the Nixon's veto of another bill that allowed local governments to continue collecting sales taxes on out-of-state vehicle purchases.
Jones said it was his hope that the votes would be there to reinstate the tax, but many of his fellow Republicans had issues with the bill.
Early in the day, Jones said the number of Republicans supporting an override was "somewhere in the 80s," meaning they would need 20 to 30 Democrats to join them in order to override the governor's veto.
Unable to generate enough support, Republicans didn't bring the sales tax bill forward for a vote.