A Missouri lawmaker filed a lawsuit this week seeking a federal court ruling that his family is exempt from contraception coverage through the Missouri state insurance plan, arguing the coverage violates his First Amendment rights.
State Rep. Paul Wieland (R-Imperial) filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and his wife, Teresa, who both qualify for the state health plan through Wieland’s service as a legislator. Unlike some other legal challenges, which seek a broad ruling from the court that the contraception benefit is unconstitutional, Wieland’s suit only seeks a personal exemption from the contraception requirement. Should Wieland’s lawsuit succeed, it would create precedent for other individuals to sue as a way to opt out of coverage.
Wieland is working with the Thomas More Society, a law firm based in Chicago that pushes litigation on behalf of religious conservative issues and clients. The firm has cases challenging the contraception benefit in states across the country. Last year, it unsuccessfully defended a Missouri law that allowed employers and employees to opt out of the contraception benefit for “reasons of conscience.” In March, a federal court ruled the Missouri law was unconstitutional, preempted by the federal health-care law.
So far over 70 lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the Affordable Care Act’s no cost-sharing contraceptive coverage benefit, with over 50 cases still pending and federal appellate courts split on the law’s constitutionality.