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Contraceptive coverage bills don't make their way in the House.

April 04, 2000
By: Danel Aguirre
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1150, HB 1090, HB 2083

JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation to force insurance companies to cover contraceptives as withered on the Missouri legislative vine.

Although getting public attention early in the legislative session, the measures stalled in the process -- leaving them with little chance of passage with just six weeks left in the legislative session.

The bills are going nowhere, said Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, chairman of the House Critical Issues Committee that handled the three measures.

Harlan's committee approved the bills, but Harlan concedes it is too late for the bills to have any chance.

Harlan said he liked the proposal and tried to work for it.

"I support the bill. I think it's an important bill. I would like to think that it has future," he said.

A variety of reasons are cited for the inaction -- both by the legislature and by insurance companies.

Insurance companies are not paying for contraceptives because men still dominate them, claimed Clara Faatz, of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.

"I don't feel that men understand the issue as women do," said Faatz, who testified in favor of three bills that would make insurance companies pay consumer's contraceptive costs.

The slow pace of the legislative session was cited as a reason for legislative inaction by one of the bill's sponsors -- Rep. May Scheve, D-St.Louis County, The Republicans' effort for making the legislative process slower and the abortion rights opponents, she said, are the ones who made the bill die.

"I'm very disappointed," she said. "I think that the bill would be heavily debated, but we would have it passed."

Harlan, like Scheve, pointed to Republicans and abortion-rights opponents as responsible.

But Faatz said abortion is not related to the issue.

"This has nothing to do with abortion," she said.

Scheve vowed she will bring the bill back next year.

"I'll be trying it again," she said.

But Faatz warns it still will be a difficult task.

"People still don't understand equity," she said.