Group Rallies in Lansing Against Contraception Mandate (WILX News 10)

Published June 8, 2012 by WILX News 10.

By Liam Martin.


Published: 06.08.12| Updated: 06.13.12

LANSING< -- More than a thousand people converged on the state Capitol on Friday to voice their opposition to the federal government's contraception mandate.

"Initially, this was being spun as a contraceptive issue, but the underlying issue is, it's attacking the catholic church's religious freedoms, our religious beliefs," Brian Smith with Stand Up for Religious Freedom, the group that organized more than a hundred of rallies across the country.

The group held similar rallies at the end of March.

The contraception mandate is part of the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health care reform now under review by the Supreme Court.

President Obama's administration announced a compromise in March, saying religious organizations will not have to pay for the contraception coverage.

A mix of insurance and pharmaceutical companies will, instead.

Those at the Capitol say the government's compromise is not good enough.

"Many large Catholic institutions, for example -- not just Catholic -- but Catholic schools, hospitals, churches self-insure, so they are the insurance company," said Marybeth Hicks, a columnist for the Washington Times who spoke at the rally.

Another speaker compared the mandate to Nazism.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has said a combination of third-party administrators, private insurers and pharmaceutical companies will cover the costs for self-insured employers, as well.

And proponents of the mandate argue that's a fair way to balance two different rights.

"99 percent of women use birth control at some point in their lives. This is basic health care for women," said Meghan Groen with Planned Parenthood of South Michigan.

She argues that not requiring contraception coverage amounts to denying it to some women, noting around 60 percent of women use birth control inconsistently because they simply can't afford it.

"The ramifications for women's access to birth control are huge," she said. "Over half of the pregnancies in the state of Michigan are unintended, and part of that is that women don't have access to the quality health care that they need."

All this could soon be moot. If the Supreme Court strikes down the health care law in its entirety, the contraception mandate would fall with it.

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