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Mississippi Religious Advocates Call For Repeal of Contraceptive Mandate

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Mar 2012 04:17pm | comments
Activist Tanya Britton

Religious activists in Mississippi are calling on the Obama administration to remove a mandate that all insurance plans cover contraceptives. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that some believe the rule would require people to violate their religious conscious.

A group of about 50 religious and anti-abortion activist sing and speak out in protest against the requirement that all insurance plans to provide contraception free of charge.

The Catholic Church has largely led the charge against the rule.

Father Joseph Latino is the bishop of the Jackson Diocese.

He says the rule forces catholic employers to subsidize treatments it opposes such as contraception and sterilization.

"There is no way that we are going to accept the suggestion that we accommodate our beliefs to abide by the law," Latino said.

The group protested in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Jackson on the second anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the health care reform bill into law.

The Protestors carried signs reading 'God's law trumps man's law' and 'Stand up for religious freedom'.

25-year old Sandra Allen of Jackson brought her two young children to the rally.

"I understand people have the right to use birth control or contraception if that what their conscious says but they don't have the right to make us pay for it. I am a Catholic. I am against contraception and I think I have the right to not pay for people's contraception," Allen said.

Contraceptive coverage is considered basic preventative care as part of the health care reform law.

The Obama administration has now changed the rule, allowing religious employers to opt-out but still requiring insurance companies pick up the tab for contraceptive coverage...The move did little to quell opposition.

Half dozen counter-protestors marched across the street.

Holding a sign reading 'the church does not own my body' 28-year old Queen Lyric of Jackson says contraception is a part of a complete health care package.

"You want to give them health care? Give them health care no matter what their choice is because you can't force them to be religious so the only thing you can do is give them their rights," Lyric said.

Women's groups and health care reform advocates have made similar arguments.

With Mississippi leading the nation in its teen pregnancy rate, advocates say that one key reason to expand access to free contraceptives.


This story is part of a partnership between MPB, NPR and Kaiser Health News.





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