John Carroll Teacher Speaks At Religious Freedom Rally

Rachel Harkins was one of several people to speak at Friday's Rally for Religious Freedom in Bel Air.

The steps facing Main Street were the site of the second Rally for Religious Freedom in Bel Air Friday.

As part of a nationwide rally, dozens of people gathered around the courthouse fountain with signs protesting the part of that requires employers, including religious institutions, to provide access to contraceptives to employees through their health care plans.

Friday was the this year.

Among the speakers at Friday's rally was Rachel Harkins, a teacher at the in Bel Air.

Harkins said the law impacts her and her employer directly as she is a Catholic woman working for a religious institution.

“These procedures are not necessary, they are life choices," Harkins said, adding she chooses "self control not birth control."

“I refuse to choose something that violates my conscience and my rights as an American," Harkins said.

More than 150 towns and cities nationwide participated in the rally, according to a release from "Stand Up for Religous Freedom."

In January, the Obama administration for implementing the law that requires religious employers to offer health plans covering contraceptives without co-pays or deductibles.

But the Department of Health and Human Services stated that the new rule "Ensures that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range" of all "FDA-approved forms of contraception."

Nonprofit and religious employers have until Aug. 1, 2013 to comply with the new law.

The rally is designed to protest the government's definition of religious institutions, and the requirement that all businesses "provide contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans," despite moral positions, the release states.

Tom H June 13, 2012 at 02:53 AM
To Bel Air native: In fact, among my most profound regrets from my teenage years (and at other times in my life) are those occasions that I degraded myself and cheated others by succumbing to urges rather than aspiring to goals. I repeat, the notion that the best we can expect from humankind (of any age) is that they will act on their "urges" and we should tailor public policy accordingly is insulting.
Bel Air Native June 13, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Tom: You get insulted easily. I'm sorry you have regrets and I'm sad that you consider chastity to be a "goal" to achieve. I aim higher than my crotch when I set goals.
Mike June 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM
How does making health care available to people who elect to take advantage of it constitute imposing your will on someone? I will never understand these assertions that somehow offering the options of acquiring birth control means you have to use it. The alternative (the one you endorse) makes it IMPOSSIBLE to get birth control because of your own personal beliefs. That to me is imposing your will on others and should not be allowed. If you work for a company, you should have access to healthcare which includes birth control and contraception so you aren't forced to pray away unwanted and unplanned children and stds.
Jess Stewart June 13, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I feel this is law is only making options available to women, it is not in any sense forcing women to take birth control. Therefore, it is still pryecting religious freedom. As a woman with ovarian cysts, taking birth control pills is a very important method of pain management for me, which is why I take them. I think a lot of people forget the other uses of birth control, especially pills, and do not realize that such things are necessary in woman's healthcare. Without insurance coverage, I would not be able to afford these pills and with the pain of in controlled cysts, I would have to take a week off from work every month. That's not right.
M June 13, 2012 at 05:36 PM
This is absoultly rediculous. Let me try and break this down. The first asserstion that big goverment is controlling people is true and is innapproprite, the federal goverment has too much power. point blank. Now as a grown women with a college education, this disscusion about the availabilty of birth control being in any way a violation of religious freedom is upsrid. The birth control clause is merely an option, no one is forceing the pill down you're throught, or a condom up you're vagina, if you want to be (1) Prude or (2) Irrespossibly sexually active then that is you're poragitive. But it is not for the Religious sect to impose chasity on the majority secular population. If you think that you're relgious freedoms are actully being controlled, go back and study a little thing called the holocost and then come talk to me about Concreptive coverage. Simple minded Zelots.
J.D.Mom June 15, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Mike and Bel Air Native: Does it make you feel good to ridicule Ms. Harkins for her beliefs? Were you even at the rally? I was. She was very courageous for standing up for what she believes and is a great role model for young women. She was not trying to force her view on anyone. In fact, she was standing with those of us who believe the government should not force us to purchase health insurance that covers things like abortifacient drugs, sterilizations and contraceptives which are against our religious beliefs. IN FACT, that is what the HHS mandate will do. If you want to purchase them, go ahead. Nobody is stopping you. Just don't make us pay for your promiscuity. For your information, estrogen is a Class I carcinogen (like tobacco), birth control pills don't stop the spread of AIDS, and pregnancy is not a disease. I could go on, but I am not sure you can see beyond your Christophobia and ignorance to actually learn about these issues in an intelligent manner. I actually feel sorry for people who believe they cannot control their sexual passions, and who fail to see the beautiful and sacred gift of human sexuality when expressed in the one flesh union of the marital embrace. There is another option to our sex saturated society and Ms. Harkins should be commended for her witness. Indeed, God Help Us All!
Bel Air Native June 15, 2012 at 03:51 AM
J.D. Mom: Yes, it does make me feel good. You know what doesn't make me feel good? "The one flesh union of the marital embrace" Lady, you are NUTS!!!!! Your description of sex is like a bucket of cold water.
Paula Hoppel June 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Jess, I am sorry you are struggling with that painful condition. It is not true, however, that the accomodations suggested to protect individuals and institutions from violating their conciences through compliance with the HHS would deny you this treatment. In your case the pill would be an appropriate therapy for an illness. Those protesting the HHS mandate are rejecting the definition of the contraceptives as preventative care because pregnancy isn't a disease requiring treatment (e.g. with abortofacient drugs). In your case, the same pill would be treating a disease so it would not violate the conscience of an employer opposed to abortofacient drugs.
J.D.Mom June 15, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Bel Air Native: You are entitled to your opinion. And I am entitled to express mine. The description was used by the late Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body, which expounds upon the Church's views on human sexuality. Anyone who sincerely believes this view would never consider the vile behavior you describe in your post. So, yes, if I am "crazy" I am a "happy crazy" who is not interested in using or abusing others but one who seeks to spread the Good News for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. You are not being compelled to believe anything so why are you so hateful? "For those who have Faith, no proof is necessary; for those who do not no proof is adequate." If you don't want to read any more of my posts, then don't. Others might find enlightenment.
Carrie MG June 15, 2012 at 02:24 PM
When the draft was in effect there were "conscientious objectors" who were excused from being drafted on grounds that it violated their religious beliefs. I live close to Amish communities who are exempt from some of the mandates of our government because of their religious beliefs. As the HHS mandate forces me to pay for "services" that violate my religious conscience, there should be a "conscientious objector" clasuse to this mandate, too. As a Catholic that is all I am asking for. As it stands, I cannot buy any insurance which does not have these drugs/services. We are not even allowed by law to provide our own insurance policy which would not cover these options. I feel strongly enough about this issue that I would not have coverage provided by work and would have my own private insurance paid for by me, but that is not even an option. Thank you Rachel Harkins for having the strength of character to stand against tyranny. May all of my children have such fortitude.
Ken Youngmann June 15, 2012 at 04:20 PM
K, It seems like many are missing the point. We are talking about freedom. What Ms. Harkins spoke to was religious freedom. Sure, she spoke her view and thank God that people like her can still be found in this "free" country. I don't care if people knock her opinion. That is their right and, for the time being, they are free to express it. What Americans need to haul aboard is if the lose any part of their freedom, or if they lay back and let it slip away, what is the next freedom they will allow to be taken away, and the next, and the next....? I attended the rally and concur with what she said. Ms. Harkins displayed character, conviction, and courage. She should be commended. K CDRK
Paula Hoppel June 15, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I agree, Ken. It is irrelevant whether an individual agrees with Ms. Harkins' faith or her stand on any issue. What should matter to everyone regardless of faith perspective or lack thereof is that NO ONE should be COMPELLED to violate his or her conscience. That is what the HHS Mandate actually does! The Rally was all about FREEDOM! Is it American to object to a citizen or group of citizens who excercise their freedom? This is an issue that should transcend worldview and party lines. Surely the importance of FREEDOM is something which we all agree is valuable and must be protected.
Concerned female voter June 16, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Jess, noone is going to deny you or anyone else medication to treat a medical condition. Hormonal treatments for disease are NOT the issue, or the focus of our rally. Also, for the record, I am not old, male or even really a Republican. I am a woman who does not like the government telling an employer that they have to provide free birth control. Not a drug that saves lives, or prevents a disease. It prevents people!! To each their own if they choose to USE it. That IS a personal choice. We are not trying to outlaw it. We are simply saying, do NOT take any more of our tax money to pay foe this.
Concerned female voter June 16, 2012 at 01:13 AM
As far as the teacher, what better way to show her students the proper way to protest. With respect, integrity, and staying loyal to your beliefs. It is of the benefits and we.possess as citizens of.the USA, to be able to lawfully state our beliefs without fear of persecution or prosecution. Disagree with us? It is your right. Please vote, as we do, and let your voice.be heard.
Concerned female voter June 16, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Mike, just wanted.to comment on your post(s). I am disturbed that your. view.of.the Catholic church is reduced.to comments about age old wars and a small percentage of bad priests. The comment about Africa strikes.me as misinformed, as most of the AIDS transmissions there have.little to do with condom use. The promiscuity among men, and the lack of laws protecting women and children from sex.they do not want to have are more.to blame. Handing them condoms and saying "Here, the Church says it's fine now!" is clearly not.the answer. A man who is raping and/or coercing others into sex outside of marriage is not likely to be following what the Church teaches!! As far as the Church changing its.mind on this issue, it CAN'T. You are missing the whole point. Anything that alters or changes the basic biological act, on purpose, is not following the natural law of biology. In
Concerned female voter June 16, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Sorry... In other words, condoms alter the natural completion of sex, on purpose. The pill changes the biochemistry of the woman's body on purpose, if prescribed for.that purpose. If prescribed.to treat disease, then the purpose is not the same, although the outcome may be. These ideas were new to me too. I converted in 2006, and honestly, it was the best decision of my life. I truly love my church and its teachings. I don't feel bullied or oppressed. As a woman, I feel honored, protected and respected. Not everyone is following church teachings due to fear of Hell. Many of us like our Church, even if sometimes the humans that are managing it make mistakes.
Pat June 16, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Abortofacient drugs are not legally available in the USA and are not an issue. If you put Plan B medication in that catagory, you are misinformed as to how that medication actually works. I am a married Christian who believes that it is my moral imperative to be responsible in my family's procreation decisions. By denying me access to BC through a health plan that my employer facilitates and I pay a premium for, MY religious freedom is being violated. No one is forcing anyone to use any medication that they are opposed to on any gounds. We all need to have the freedom to make our own religious and moral choices. IF we take this argument to it's logical conclusion, any employer can deny their employees access to any medicine or medical procedure that the employer has a religious objection to. Some employers may be religiously averse to vaccinations, for example. This argument for religious "freedom" only protects the religious freedom of the employer and negates the religious freedom of many employees.
Pat June 16, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Please copy, cut and paste to the address bar to read scientifically supported information re " abortificients". http://www.op-stjoseph.org/blog/the_scientific_evidence_suggests_that_plan_b_is_not_an_abortifacient/ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/health/research/morning-after-pills-dont-block-implantation-science-suggests.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all http://ncronline.org/news/catholic-journal-says-plan-b-does-not-cause-abortions http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/what-abortifacient-and-what-it-isnt?page=1
Paula Hoppel June 16, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Pat, actually you are misinformed regarding abortofacients. Just check out the package inserts for the various forms of birth control such as Depo Provera, The Pill, the IUD (access them on the manufacturers' websites) and read the fine print....you will be surprised! And although it might be prudent to protect consumers from drugs and devices that are so damaging to their health and fertility, that is not the fight being waged against the HHS mandate. Rather it is asserting that no-one should be forced to pay for something or provide for something they consider unethical or immoral. If an employee disagrees with an employer and desires these contraceptives they are most free to acquire them for themselves. (despite the misinformation in the debate, they are widely and cheaply available--this is not a situation of lack of access--just call your local public health clinic)
Paula Hoppel June 16, 2012 at 02:49 AM
interesting, Pat. Check out the 2nd comment in the combox on the third link----it is filled with refutations of the poorly researched article you cite. The National Catholic Reporter is not a sound source. It consistently presents as Catholic, views that oppose the teachings of the bishops and the teaching authority of the church. It was interesting that the sources cited by this commenter are not at all biased in favor of the Catholic Church, like NARAL and the FDA, etc! From the manufacturer at www.go2planb.com/ForConsumers/AboutPlanB/HowItWorks.aspx Plan B works like a regular birth control pill. Plan B may also work by preventing it from attaching to the uterus (womb).” From NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) at www.prochoiceamerica.org/issues/birth_control/emergency-contraception/em... (EC) is simply a concentrated dose of ordinary birth-control pills that can substantially reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant when taken within days of unprotected sex... it prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization, or implantation before a pregnancy occurs.” From The Federal Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/planB/planBQandA20060824.htm It is possible that Plan B may also work by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb)
franking June 16, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Let's face it, this whole specific federal mandate on contraception is meant to be an election year wedge issue. I'm not Catholic or some composite woman "Julia" dumb enough to be fooled by it. There is no federal mandate requiring health insurance to cover a woman's blood pressure meds at 100%, or chemotherapy drugs at 100%. The issue illustrates what Democrats think are the important parts of a woman; the parts we can use to service men sexually. Their priorities suck, I'm insulted by it and I think all women should be. If I was too lame to figure out how to pay for my own birth control without it being covered by an employer plan I'd exercise my freedom to get a job somewhere besides a Catholic mission. Let them dole out employee benefits in accordance with their long held beliefs and the Democrat's own 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Concerned female voter June 16, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Pat, thank you for posting those links. The nytimes article was very informative. It seems that PlanB in particular is being studied regardinq implantation. As the article states, it is almost impossible to be sure, but it does make me feel better that studies have shown a lower risk for preventing implantation than was previously reported. I truly care that fewer babies are losing a chance at life due to this, so it is good news. The pill , IUD and most hormonal contraceptives do still have an effect on implantation at least in possibility, if not in each case. However, knowing more about PlanB is helpful.
Jess Stewart June 16, 2012 at 08:01 PM
For anyone opposing this, please educate yourself: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/02/01/health-reform-preventive-services-and-religious-institutions
Pat June 16, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Paula, Unfortunately the links you posted are not available and that could possibly be because they are dated. Current science, for which there are many links on the multiple pages I supplied, indicate that the attachement prevention information that you cite was an early unsubstantiated conclusion. From the more recent research I have slogged through, studies have shown that the chance of this occuring are extremely doubtful. The manufacturer appears to be going through the lengthy process of changing the insert information to coincide with long term study results. Never the less, I think that the claim that Plan B is an abortafacient is misleading when a known true abortafacient- RU 486 has been purposely excluded from this plan.
Paula Hoppel June 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Thanks for that link, Jess. It fails to satisfy concerns, however. I will briefly explain several of the points made on that website below: •Churches are exempt: the definition of Church (as exempt) is narrow. Only churches that employ and serve members only are exempt. Obviously, organizations that flow from the mission of the Church (e.g. Catholic Charities, which serves the needs of the poor, orphaned, disabled, etc, regardless of their faith) would not be exempt under the definition. Thus they as well as other non-exempt entities including colleges, diocese and other charities are suing the federal government for forcing them to comply with the HHS Mandate. •No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The mandate is protested because it forces employers to PAY for it (saying the costs are passed on to the insurance companies is a dodge and fails to satisfy these concerns. Ask any insurance professional why. • No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This is not a point of contention: rather, the issue is about being compelled to purchase or provide for something you believe is immoral
Paula Hoppel June 17, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Here are a few more: •Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486. The case isn't closed on all those remaining drugs yet. The definition of abortion from a Catholic perspective includes anything that interrupts a developing life after conception. Thus, chemicals and devices that inhibit implantation are abortofacients. •Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: This is beside the point....those cases can be appealed at the state level. This must be appealed at the federal level. •Contraception is used by most women: This may be true but it is irrelevant. it is also true that nearly every Catholic sins. That doesn't mean that sin should be accepted as fine since nearly everyone does it. It doesn't mean that the Church should assist people to sin since they will be doing it anyway. •Contraception coverage reduces costs: This fails to satisfy because it reduces human dignity by focusing on utilitarianism...a philosophy rejected by the Church. Another reason is that it fails to address the issue of the violation of religious liberty. The logic of the government's assertion is short-sighted, however. Many of the drugs provided have been linked to long-term health concerns (many are class 1 carcinogens). It also fails to address the potential problems of bimodal distribution of population in the future.
Paula Hoppel June 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Pat--sorry about the links not working. They must have changed after I posted them. I will try to relocate later
Pat June 17, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Thank you, Paula. I continue to read and inform myself on this issue.
Heather Andrulli July 26, 2012 at 05:40 PM
So the "Just say no" to cigarettes campaign is a waste of time- kids just need filtered cigarettes- safe smoking!- campaign. Also, if teens can't control themselves- anti bullying campaigns are a waste of time, too...hmmm, maybe solitary confinement "learning cells" - "safe education" is what we need. Also, don't waste your time trying to get these pesky kids to use birth control- that takes "education" and planning to get them to institute a change in their behavior (remember, condom efficacy numbers assume they are used 100% of the time with 100% correctness). Oh, wait!!!!! You advocate educating teens about all KINDS of risky behaviors in order to get them to make better choices- but you tell us who believe teens can behave better to "get your head out of the sand". You are being illogical AND hypocritical. You are also being historically ignorant - teen sexual behavior (and out of wedlock births/ STI's, etc.) have only skyrocketed since the early 60's (advent of hormonal contraception). Maybe what you mean is that you think today's teens are somehow worse than those produced 100 years ago. I say teens aren't any worse, our CULTURE is.
Ahmad0001 December 18, 2012 at 05:16 AM
But again, this is more about the right of private companies than birth control. Get government out of the private sector! http://www.onlinedatastoragesite.com/softwares/safeguard-my-kid-online-choosing-parental-manage-software.html


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