On June 8th citizens gathered in more than 150 rallies around the country to protest the new healthcare mandate that requires businesses, schools and institutions to provide coverage for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. (The mandate is part of the Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” passed in 2010.)
WORLD Magazine covered the gathering in Houston at the largest Planned Parenthood facility in the country, where 17-year-old David Fullerton spoke to the group, saying
“We’re here because the [Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive] mandate is at its core a really bad idea. It’s unconstitutional and, more fundamentally, it’s based on a false worldview that does not properly respect the freedom of religion.”
Eric Scheidler, co-founder of Stand Up for Religious Freedom, called the existing allowances for religious organizations to opt out of the mandate “Narrow and insulting. … Jesus’ apostles wouldn’t qualify.”
The thousands of protesters who gathered around the country (3,600 in Chicago alone) are of various faiths and creeds, united in fighting for religious freedom under the First Amendment.
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On June 15th the Catholic Health Association withdrew its support of the contraceptive mandate with its religious exemption, because
“The exemption in the final rule is narrower than any conscience clause ever enacted in federal law and reflects an unacceptable change in federal policy regarding religious beliefs,” the Association wrote in their letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Currently only churches and seminaries are exempt from the mandate, meaning religious hospitals and health clinics must comply. By this narrow definition, the letter said, “the government essentially parses a bona fide religious organization into secular and religious components solely to impose burdens on the secular portion. To make this distinction is to create a false dichotomy between the Catholic Church and the ministries through which the church lives out the teachings of Jesus Christ.”