US Rallies Against Contraception Mandate

Chain of Cities Hosts Demonstrations Defending Religious Liberty

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By Ann Schneible

CHICAGO, MARCH 23, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Throughout the United States, those who oppose the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services Mandate came together, each in his or her own state, to protest the mandate's imposition on the consciences of American Catholics.

Eric Scheidler, a member of the Pro Life Action League and one of the co-chairmen of the Rally, described the overall response throughout the nation. "The general response of the public from all the rallies was extremely positive, extremely upbeat," he said. "People are really pumped up; it is really a perilous issue.

The rallies were held in some 140 cities, including in Washington, D.C. outside of the Health and Human Services building.

"The level of concern is very deep, even outrage, over this encroachment on the First Amendment,” Scheidler said. “But at the same time, to participate in something so exiting, so vibrant, so energetic all around the country was a great blessing for people, and they feel like they’re not alone. They feel like they’re part of a movement. And they feel, rightly, that they are at the very beginning of turning the tide in America, and overturning Barack Obama’s HHS Mandate."

Scheidler, who himself participated in the Chicago rally, spoke about some of the main points that were addressed during the events.

"I think one of the points made most often," he said, " is that women are offended, deeply offended, by the idea enshrined in the HHS Mandate that their natural fertility constitutes a medical condition, that pregnancy is a kind of disease requiring free, mandated preventive care. Many women are speaking out against this. They're saying, ‘As a woman, I find this idea [offensive] that my ability to become a mother is some sort of medical condition, or malady.’ They're deeply offended. Motherhood is not a disease.”

The choice of date for the rallies, moreover, was not an accident. "In fact we timed these rallies to fall on the Friday before the Feast of the Annunciation because we wanted to highlight that, in contrast to Our Lady – who said 'yes' to motherhood – Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, close allies of Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, are saying no to motherhood."

"Another theme," he continued, "is a sense of indignation that Obama would have the gall to have a 'religious exemption' so narrow that it excludes from the sphere of religious ministry such things as feeding the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and elderly, educating the young, housing the homeless: things which have been recognized from time immemorial to belong within the sphere of the ministry of religious institutions.”

Eric Scheidler partnered with Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro Life Society to help turn the rally into a reality. Some of the notable organizations who helped to mobilize the rallies included the Becket Fund, Alliance Defense Fund, Priests for Life, Ave Maria Radio, Relevant Radio, Pro Life Action Ministries, among others.