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Protesters Pray for No Birth Control Mandate

More than 100 people gathered in St. Petersburg for a prayer rally to oppose a provision in President Obama's Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act.

Proclaiming that "motherhood is not a medical condition," a speaker at a rally Friday against the Affordable Care Act urged President Obama not to treat pregnancy like a "disease."

“Let us be clear, pregnancy is not a disease, fertility is not an illness, and motherhood is not a medical condition," said Kristina Garza of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, speaking to more than 100 people.

"Contraception is not preventive care, and abortion-inducing drugs are not health care,” said Garza, who is campus outreach director for the group.

The protesters had gathered at two street corners along a busy commercial highway in St. Petersburg to pray and rally against Obama’s Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act. March 23 was the second anniversary of the President's Affordable Care Act.

The act requires insurers to cover birth control and other reproductive services.

The rally was one of several “Stand up For Religious Freedom” protests held  Friday, in U.S. cities that included Minneapolis, New Orleans and Buffalo, NY. 

Garza told the St. Petersburg crowd that the mandate requires all health-care employers to provide contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs for free under the title of preventive care.

The Obama Administration softened its stance this week, stating that insurers, not employers, will have the mandate. But that has not appeased many protest groups.

Garza was joined by other protesters chanting “Give me liberty or give me death.” They lined 4th Street North, at the corner of 22nd Avenue North, waving flags and passing out pamphlets about the health-care mandate.

They complained that the mandate violates religious freedom since it requires all employers to abide by the rule, regardless of whether it goes against their beliefs.

The Obama Administration has been in talks this week with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the mandate, to see if there are ways to modify the act, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In response to the protests, Protect Your Care and Planned Parenthood issued a statement. The protesters fail to recognize that contraception actually saves lives, according to Planned Parenthood.

“These rallies are being led by extremist groups far outside the mainstream and who have a long history of attacking birth control,” said Wendy Grassi, Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

Garza’s group, The Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, is a California-based mission group whose goal is to “bring the truth about abortion to college and high school campuses.”

Garza and another member of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust were arrested on March 6 in Jackson, Miss., on the sidewalk in front of Murrah High School after passing out pamphlets and holding large signs with images of aborted fetuses.

According to WLBT in Mississippi, Garza was arrested after school officials said she and others interfered with a school bus driver and jeopardized students' safety.

The TV station said that the group was warned the day before that if they protested on campus they would be arrested.

On Friday in St. Pete, Garza said Obama and his administration are anti-American.

“The Obama administration is not only the most anti-life, pro-abortion and anti-faith administration that our nation has seen,” Garza said. “They are out-rightly anti-American as they seek to override our first amendment right to practice religious activities.”

Grassi said a majority of Americans support greater access to birth control and contraceptives.

Darden Rice, Florida Communications Director of Protect Your Care said, “There is widespread public support for birth control and for the President’s announcement that ensures women have access to birth control with no costly co-pays, regardless of where they work.”

richard boggs March 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM
As a pastor I find it kinda of funny. Firstly that this article began with "more than 100" showed up. More people show up for sales at Macy's! This simply shows that most people don't want to wait their time on such non-issues at this point in time! Secondly, the writer quoted the repeated lies of calling our President "anti-faith". Which most churches and their followers practice 'anti-faith' with every services! Sorry fellow bible beating Chritians....this country was NOT build on "Christian" faith, it was based on "Religious freedom". So, before you go trying to say you are a Chrisian...try being Christ like. In closing, it's sad that the average voter country quote the constituion to you ...bue they want to talk alot about their constit. rights. Much like most who want to scream "the Bible says'....they don't even know what the "bible says. Simply pick a new fight people....feed the hungry, clothe the poor, treat your neighbor as you want to be treated!! Sigh.
Indygrl76 March 24, 2012 at 01:44 PM
So... let me see-- this story is about 100 people who hate the President and are against birth control... wow! Really? Is it worth this much attention? Only 100 out of how many millions live in the Tampa Bay area? Well, these people don't have to use birth control if they don't want to... it's their choice. But they don't have the right to impose their religious beliefs on every one else. When religious institutions affiliate with businesses they become employers and should be subject to the same employment requirements of every other employer. Religion is no excuse. If they don't want to live up to the expectations of being an employer-- don't be one. In the meantime, this is a secular government and a country with a lot of religious believers in the population. This does not change the separation of church and state... so take the crazy and do your dance, light your candles, pray to the big guy in the sky, whatever-- but don't ever think you have the right to impose this nonsense on others.
Forest March 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
There is a world of difference in making something "available" and forcing people to use something. If the congregations are doing their job they have no reason to worry that their brethren will be tempted by the evils of sex for pleasure without concern of pregnancy. That's right, married men and women too...sex for babies only.
Michael F Brennan March 24, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Mr. Boggs, As Rally Coordinator in St Petersburg, I can assure you that 250 people were standing up for freedom at 1PM when Katrina Garza was speaking. We walked the sidewalks to be sure. Between 11:30AM and 3PM the 'come and go' option was in effect. Another 50 came when others left. You are entitled to your opinion. Thank God the USA and the City of St Petersburg allows us to voice our opinion. In fact we are trying to resist unconstitutional fascist tactics against Religious Freedom. Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Catholics, Protestants and a Muslim witnessed yesterday for the preservation of our Bill of Rights. We were witnessing in 140 cities yesterday. Many media tried to ignore us, but this publication had the integrity to recognize a newsworthy event. Michael F Brennan St Petersburg Coordinator Standupforreligiousfreedom.com
Michael F Brennan March 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
As Rally Coordinator for St Petersburg's Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally I can verify that the count was 250 at 1PM while Kristina Garza was leading us and speaking. We walked the sidewalks to be sure. Numbers fluctuated between 11:30AM and 3PM as folks came and went. It is a hot sun out there after an hour standing tall. Our Constitution with our Bill of Rights are endangered of being superseded by total federal control of the nation. Telling Bishops that they will have to approve what the Feds say are good values is a symptom of the reason we had 1776. "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death", Patrick Henry March 23, 1776. Yesterday happened to be the 236th Anniversary of Patrick's witness. We were in 140 cities and towns across the country with Atheists, Agnostics, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims speaking to truth and witnessing the danger before us. GOD BLESS AMERICA!! Michael F Brennan Coordinator, St Petersburg standupforreligiousfreedom.com
Susan B. Anthony March 24, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Good Lord, Michael Brennan ~ why does it always appear to be a male coordinatoring women's health issues. First, the 5-6 men [only] testifying in DC regarding women's health issues and now here... Aren't you being a little bit dramatic with "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" ~ that's ludicrous! When the Catholic church starts to pay taxes, then perhaps they can have a say w/their religious beliefs in laws; BUT first, I would spend your time praying for the children that were abused by priests and the hierarchy of the church that protected these individuals from prosecution. Trust me, the devastation these religious leaders did on young boys is heart breaking [and in many cases a life long nightmare]....and you're going around w/your "Give me.....death"...be serious. The Catholic church has been fighting President Obama since he won the election in 2008 ~ check the back records. From priests giving their sermons that anyone who voted for the President could not receive communion until they went to confession [St. Mary's Church, in Carolina, I believe] to the Bishops writing letters condemning Notre Dame for having President Obama as guest speaker because he respected women and their right to choose and had the intelligence to make the right choice for them.....this ridiculous rally is just another expression of 'white' men loosing control of women... P.S. any women that supported this rally ~ fine, but don't tell me what to do w/my body ~ keep it to yourself
Michael F Brennan March 24, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Dear Susan B Anthony, You were a very strong voice against abortions, and believed contraception was a control mechanism for men to take advantage of women making them prone to promiscuity. However that is a very outdated conviction. As we all know, 'you have come a long way, baby'. But we are talking about another matter. It is about your freedom and mine. 1. 80% of the 250 at the rally were women. They like to push a man to look like he is running something. Then, they organize and take over the event. Such is life in Americana. My father's experience was the same with my mother. The truth is I was reduced to being a 'pretty face'. 2. The Feds want to place the American bishops in the position of condoning the use of contraceptives, sterilizations & abortifacients. Bishops are consecrated to explain and protect Church Teaching. Like all humans, American Bishops can commit foul deeds even hypocrisy. The group is improving, but many were wanting in sound, holy leadership. Not all but enough to make it hurt. However, don't underestimate them when their vows to protect Church Teaching is attacked by government. They wear red to remind them they have promised God to be the 'Watchman' of biblical proportions. They are prepared for martyrdom. Closing institutions so government can own may be the HHS plan. 3. The Bishops support Obama, & no priest speaks to personal voting. Michael F Brennan Coordinator St Petersburg StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com
Deborah March 25, 2012 at 02:28 AM
To all the negative feedback people over a very positive and peaceful movement: 1. I am a woman and coordinated my own event in Temecula California. 2. Are people really that ignorant as to believe this is just a " religious" thing, let alone a catholic thing? I guess so according to all you folk. 3. Why don't you educate yourself before judging an outcome of an event you didn't even attend? 4. This isn't even about Obama anymore then it is all about the catholic church. 5. Read your constitution , and make no mistake, if the shoe was on the other foot, e.g. Religious leaders forcing government to prevent women from utilizing all birth control services, demanding to be removed off of the pharmaceutical shelves, guaranteed you would all be screaming for your rights as guaranteed under the same amendment we are today. 6. Another guarantee, when and yes I say when not if, the government chooses to chip away at rights you do hold valuable, better believe you will be wondering where all of us, who were defending your rights are, and asking us to stand with you. Let's hope, and yes PRAY, that we who see the whole picture, can stop this from happening now, so you can carry on with your freedoms!
Michael F Brennan March 25, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thanks for your comment Deborah. As your comment documents, this issue draws the best and the brightest from our great country. Kristina Garza brought a large banner stating:: "YOU PAY FOR YOUR OWN CONTRACEPTION, WE DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT". From free pills at clinics to $9.00 a month at Walmart, drug stores, etc. it has not been the most difficult of financial burdens. Keep up your good work. Our Nation is worth the struggle.
Renee March 26, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The issue is that I can choose to contracept or not but I do not have a choice to pay money so that others can do so "freely". That is unconstitutional. That is my crazy dance. Today I have to participate in paying for something I do not believe in and tomorrow?...
Michael F Brennan March 26, 2012 at 07:48 PM
One needs to point out that the current updated article is correct, except it does not point out that Kristina Garza was on a public sidewalk outside the High School. The paranoia of the school administration does not trumph the public's Constituional rights on a public sidewalk. Kristina and the entire corps of heroines were not 'on campus'. That said, we appreciate a public in the know that The Patch tries to provide the American citizen.

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