Birth Control Mandate Sparks Protests in Pittsburgh, New Haven

A federal government mandate to require employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control for workers sparked protests in New Haven, Connecticut, and other cities last Friday.

The plan sparked protests from faith leaders because it included most religious nonprofits such as hospitals and colleges.

Religious and civil rights organizations held protests last Friday called “stand up for religious freedom.” Peter Wolfgang, an organizer, said a diverse crowd attended the New Haven rally.

President Barack Obama has offered a compromise in which insurers would bear the cost of the birth control instead of religious employers. But Roman Catholic bishops have said the prospective new rules don’t do enough to protect religious liberty. The administration is reviewing public comments before making any final decision.

100 Rally in Pittsburgh Against Health Care Law

In Pittsburgh, about 100 people have rallied against looming federal regulations requiring employers to offer birth control coverage that includes so-called morning after drugs that abort fertilized embryos.

The Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society were organizing the protests of the law which requires employers’ health insurance plans to cover the drugs. The Obama administration contends a compromise switches that responsibility to insurers and not the faith-based employers who are objecting — but those at the rally and others say making them have any role in providing the coverage violates their religious beliefs.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and Geneva College in nearby Beaver Falls are also challenging the mandate in separate lawsuits.

Nationwide Rallies Target Birth Control Measure

Demonstrators gathered last Friday at rallies around the country to decry the Obama administration’s policy of requiring private health insurance plans to cover contraception as a violation of religious freedom.

In Washington, the rally began with speeches in Upper Senate Park and a march to the U.S. Supreme Court. Congresswoman and one-time GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said the heart of the issue was religious freedom.

She says Obama “had no problem telling the religious organizations and the religious-oriented people of this nation that they must be forced to violate their religious beliefs under his health care mandate.” The issue has united multiple faiths. Recently, evangelical, Orthodox Jewish, Roman Catholic and Mormon leaders helped form networks in every state dedicated to religious liberty.