By Marc Kovac
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a federal building a few blocks from the Ohio Statehouse to voice their opposition to health-care policies implemented under President Barack Obama.
Many represented church communities that want to block a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring employer health-insurance plans to provide contraceptives to workers, a move opposed by Catholic universities and hospitals and other church-affiliated organizations.
“Who was it that promised there would be no abortion [under] Obamacare, but now there is?” asked Don Brey, an attorney and one of the featured speakers at Friday’s protest. “Who promised that you can keep your current health-care plan in Obamacare, but now you can’t? Who promised that they are going to respect the traditional respect of religious freedoms in the rule-implementing procedures, and now this is what we have?”
The Columbus event was one in a series of gatherings nationally under the banner “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” and came just days before the U.S. Supreme Court takes up federal health-care mandates backed by the president.
Those deliberations are starting near the second anniversary of the controversial federal law, which supporters say is needed to ensure access to health care for all.
“Today, two years after we passed health-care reform, more young adults have insurance, more seniors are saving money on their prescription drugs, and more Americans can rest easy knowing they won’t be dropped from their insurance plans if they get sick,” President Barack Obama said in a released statement. “The law has made a difference for millions of Americans, and over time, it will help give even more working and middle-class families the security they deserve.”
But protesters said contraception rules and other federal mandates are an unconstitutional intrusion into private health-care decisions and citizens’ right to worship as they please.
“I think this was a deliberate intention to take out the religious beliefs from all health care so that he can shut down Catholic hospitals, so that he could shut down anybody bringing up objections to abortion, so that now he controls all the hospitals, he controls the health care,” said Michael Parker, a doctor representing the Catholic Medical Association. “He can tell you what to do, where you’re going to do it and how you’re going to do it.”
Brey said Obama and federal officials should have known there would be widespread opposition from churchgoers to their policy decisions.