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Women’s Health Advocates Rally Against Birth Control Restrictions

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(credit: Pfizer Inc.)

(credit: Pfizer Inc.)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Pro-choice advocates packed a Loop auditorium Friday to push back against restrictions to the availability of birth control.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, a crowd of about 150 people – mostly women – came to First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington St. They expressed outrage over the ongoing debate over whether religiously-affiliated employers are required to contraception.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Carole Brite, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Illinois, said she is insulted by politicians towing the line of Catholic bishops that birth control is not preventative health care.

“Women should not have to sacrifice their health because of the opinions of a small group of men who are far away from the mainstream of America,” Brite said.

A number of the speakers, including Democratic U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) cited the statistic that 98 percent of women have used birth control at some point, counter to church teachings.

The politicians urged pro-choice advocates to show their support by sending postcards to their representatives in Congress, and at the voting booth.

A proposed federal rule had called for requiring all employers to pay for “all FDA-approved forms of contraception,” including faith-based religious-based hospitals, schools and charities that employ people of other faiths. The rule never applied to churches or other explicitly religious-affiliated employers.

After complaints that the rule violated “freedom of religion,” the White House Obama altered the plan to accommodate religious groups. Women would still get free contraception coverage, but religious organizations that object to coverage, though, won’t have to offer or pay for it. The cost will be passed on directly to an employee’s insurance company.

Many religious leaders say that is still not enough, including Francis Cardinal George. He says the order requiring free birth control should be done away with altogether.

George says the First Amendment is in clear violation here, by not allowing the most fundamental freedom of religious liberty.

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