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Thousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate


MICHELLE BAUMAN

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
9/23/2012

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ABSTRACTThousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Thousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate By Michelle Bauman Women protest the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Credit: Women Speak for Themselves. Washington D.C., Sep 23, 2012 / 05:56 pm ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- Thousands of women across the country are leading grassroots efforts to make their voices heard in opposition to the federal contraception and sterilization mandate. The Women Speak for Themselves movement is driven by “things that women are deciding to do on their own,” said Meg McDonnell, who has been assisting the group from early in its existence. McDonnell told CNA on Sept. 20 that the movement has received “hundreds of e-mails” about women’s efforts to defend religious freedom, including prayer campaigns, local rallies, blog posts, discussions with elected representatives, voter registration drives, billboards and letters to the editor. The movement began in February, when George Mason law professor Helen Alvaré and former Thomas More Law Center counsel Kim Daniels wrote a letter responding to the controversial federal mandate that requires employers to offer free contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs in their health care plans, regardless of their religious and moral objections. The open letter asked President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Kathleen Sebelius and members of Congress not to claim to speak for all women in promoting the mandate. It criticized those who try to “shout down anyone who disagrees” with them by invoking “women’s health,” while ignoring the negative physical and social effects of contraception for women. “No one speaks for all women on these issues,” the letter said. “Those who purport to do so are simply attempting to deflect attention from the serious religious liberty issues currently at stake.” Within weeks, the letter was signed by thousands of women of various religious and political backgrounds who oppose the mandate. The letter is currently approaching 34,000 signatures. What started as a simple letter has become a movement, with the women on the list working to “keep it active,” McDonnell explained. “It’s really them that keep it going.” As more women signed the letter, she said, they consistently wrote to Alvaré about the issues they were facing and the efforts they were leading in their local communities. Relief at having an opportunity to speak out and the ability to stand up for their beliefs was a “common theme,” she explained.  McDonnell attributes the growth of the movement over the last seven months largely to the “woman to woman contact” and the “continual discussion” that is being generated, allowing the conversation to reach a wider audience. Decades after legalized abortion swept through America, she said, “a lot of women have experienced the negative effects” of the sexual revolution. Seeing that these ideas did not lead to happiness, they now want to “set a better path for younger women.” The women in the movement hold differing views on contraception, she noted. “But they stand with us on the religious freedom issue,” she said. “And that’s the key point.” The group’s website, www.womenspeakforthemselves.com , includes talking points for discussions on the mandate and religious freedom, exploring the “war on women” rhetoric, and whether free contracept.......