PHOTOS: ‘This is tyranny’: tens of thousands decry HHS mandate in 146 nationwide protests



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ABSTRACTLifeSiteNews Mobile | PHOTOS: ‘This is tyranny’: tens of thousands decry HHS mandate in 146 nationwide protests Edition: US CANADA INT'L Latest News Most Popular Opinion/ Blogs Donate Tweet Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:47 EST PHOTOS: ‘This is tyranny’: tens of thousands decry HHS mandate in 146 nationwide protests Photos and crowd estimates from today’s “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies are beginning to pour in from across the country. BY Kathleen Gilbert Created with flickr slideshow . Christine Dhanagom contributed to this report. WASHINGTON, March 23, 2012 ( LifeSiteNews.com ) - Another “Occupy” movement has just rocked the United States of America - but with a very different message. Tens of thousands of men and women gathered in 146 protests on Friday, joining a grassroots effort that organizers say grew far beyond expectations. The rallies were held to protest the Obama administration mandate forcing religious universities, charities, and other groups to pay for abortifacient drugs and other birth control for students and employees. But while the purpose of the Occupy protests last Fall was sometimes criticized as being somewhat hazy, the message of this event was clear. According to the Friday rallies, the HHS mandate is not a birth control issue, but a religious freedom issue, and a challenge to fight that won’t be ignored. One fulcrum of the national protests was Washington, D.C., where about 1,500-2,000 gathered on a hot and sunny afternoon before the Health and Human Services building. Beneath the windows of HHS offices was heard the chanting of “We will not comply,” car horns honking in solidarity, and the rallying cries of several prominent speakers, including Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, conservative activist Star Parker, and Lila Rose of Live Action. Hawkins put the issue in blunt terms, stating simply, “This is tyranny.” “We are being told that our beliefs, our conscience, no longer matters,” said the pro-life youth leader. “What stops them from targeting someone else next?” Click “like” if you want to end abortion ! In a speech that elicited a strong reaction from the crowd, Star Parker said that, “No more should my auto insurance cover your tune-up should my health insurance cover your sex life. Not your Viagra, not your condoms, not your birth control devices, not your abortions.” Lila Rose highlighted the interests of abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood, the leading lobbyist in favor of the mandate, and criticized the progressive talking point that standing against the mandate was a “war on women.” “The very group that’s manipulating, victimizing women - you talk about a war on women, that’s the war on women,” said Rose, whose investigations have famously unveiled Planned Parenthood’s abetting of sex traffickers and child rapists. Rallies in 145 other locations showed evidence of similar zeal across the United States. Over 1,000 gathered under the shadow of George Washington’s statue on the steps of Federal Hall in New York, while hundreds more gathered from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., to Winston-Salem, NC, to Ann Arbor, Mich., to a rainy Cincinnati, Oh. Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, one of the lead organizers of the event, estimated that there were around 1,500 people present in Chicago, despite the pouring rain. While the rain .......