UCF students to protest Congress’ attempt to eliminate birth control mandate (Updated)

By | 02.14.12 | 10:24 am

President Barack Obama (Pic by The White House, via Flickr)

A host of student organizations from the University of Central Florida are planning a protest of Congress’ efforts to eliminate the Obama administration’s birth control mandate today.

As part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a federal rule requires insurers to cover contraceptives with no co-payments.

Although the rule contains an exemption for religious employers, it has found fierce opposition from the Republican House majority and the Catholic Church, who argue that the  federal government should not force religiously affiliated institutions to violate the tenets of their faith. Two days ago, Obama unveiled an “accomodation” in which the insurance companies, rather than the religious institutions institutions themselves, will provide employees with contraception coverage.

In a protest that begins at noon today on the UCF campus, a host of groups will protest Congress’ effort to eliminate the mandate and restrict access to affordable birth control, specifically Marco Rubio’s recent proposal (which would could cut off birth control coverage for millions of women who receive it through their health plans) and any attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The groups argue that forcing adults to pay out of their pockets for birth control is “an attack on health.”

From a press release for the event, which is being led primarily by Voices for Planned Parenthood at UCF:

We believe that to deny a woman the same access as everyone else based on her religious affiliation (or that of her employer) is discrimination. Nearly all sexually active women rely on some form of birth control – including 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women. To force these adults to pay out of pocket, again, for birth control is an attack on health. …

The goal of this action is to show Congress as well as the media that we DO have the numbers to back our demands for all religiously affiliated institutions to provide birth control coverage.

Since Obama denied the legitimacy of the birth control refusal clause initially, the media and the executive office have been inundated with attacks by Catholic bishops and BC Refusal supporters attacking the President’s decision. This fight is not over! We are no longer front and center in the media. We support President Obama’s position allowing religious women and women utilizing religiously affiliated institutions –regardless of their personal faith – to have the same access as everyone else.

According to a press release, organizations including the National Organization for Women, the College Democrats and the Student Labor Action Project will be “handing out Valentine’s Day goodie bags with condoms, information about the Affordable Care Act, flyers about BC Refusal, stickers, buttons, candy and information about the importance of access to contraception and preventative care on every level.”

The protest is part of a larger national action in which protesters aim to show Congress and the president their dismay with what they call the “Birth Control Refusal” clause.

Update:

This piece has been updated to reflect clarifying information about the target of today’s protest.

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