On June 8, 2010, I was asked to speak at the Arizona Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally. I spoke alongside of Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Dr. William Chavira, Karen Williams of Silent No More, Rev Dr. CT Wright, Ron Johnson, Cathi Herrod, legislators and emcee John Jakubczyk. It was a great turnout with over 1,100 people who showed up in the 105 degree weather!
It was a privilege to be a part of an event that was taking place in many other cities across America at the same time on the same day. I wanted to share my speech with all of you as I hope it inspires you to speak out against the unconstitutional HHS Mandate as well. Feel free to share what I wrote with others!
For those of you who do not know why the HHS Mandate violates our freedom, it is because the government is mandating that the Catholic Church pay for birth control, sterilization, and abortifactient drugs in their healthcare plans to offer to women for free. You see, these things are already legal and accessible to anyone who wants them, but now the government wants to offer them for free and make the American public pay for it through our insurance companies. This violates many religious organizations’ (specifically Catholic organizations) healthcare plans because they morally opposes birth control, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Freedom of religion protects religious institutions and organizations from having to violate their consciences, so the HHS Mandate violates their freedom of religion.
Personally, I not only oppose the mandate for religious reasons but also for health reasons. Furthermore, I do not see why Americans should be forced to pay for drugs and procedures that involve people’s personal sex-lives when we don’t cover for free other drugs that actually help people, like chemotherapy, insulin, and etc. The mandate is not about women’s health as you will read in my speech, but rather furthering political agendas.
If I am completely honest with you, I do not prefer to speak at political rallys. Every time I am asked, I cringe a little because the busy-working-overwhlemed-wife-and-parent part of me wants someone else to deal with things. I just want to be a mom and hang out with my husband and kids and pretend like all is right in the world. But, I live in America where I have the freedom to speak when things are unjust, so I must. I must speak even when I don’t prefer to in order to ensure that my children live in the same America I do: a place that allows the freedom of speech and the freedom to practice one’s religion. I hope you will join me in speaking out against this unjust mandate!
Here is the speech I wrote for the rally (Note: a few statements were omitted from the actual speech for time’s sake).
On July 28, 2010, the unthinkable happened. My life and my daughter’s life were at extreme risk during my labor when my heart stopped beating and I was pronounced clinically dead for 10 minutes. During my death, my daughter’s vitals dropped precipitously. Fortunately, when I was pregnant with both of my children, I exercised my freedom of religion by choosing a Catholic healthcare facility to deliver them. I intentionally agreed to drive 20 miles out of my way for one reason: the guarantee that my religious beliefs would be upheld by the staff working there. I wanted to deliver in a hospital where the doctors and staff would view my child and me as equally human and equally valuable should any complications arise. So, when I suffered a very rare and often fatal condition called an amniotic fluid embolism, the doctors and staff at this Catholic hospital worked tirelessly to resuscitate me while performing an emergency C-section on me and reviving my daughter who stopped breathing as well.
It’s not to say that another hospital couldn’t have saved our lives, but I drove 20 miles out of my way for the assurance that in this Catholic hospital there was no war on women, even unborn women. Looking back at the crisis pregnancy situation I found myself in, I am grateful I chose a Catholic healthcare facility and I am grateful to be an American where the freedom to practice my religion is protected. The HHS Mandate violates this freedom.
HHS Mandate supporters would have us believe that rejecting the mandate is the equivalent of waging a war on women. But, you see, the war on women is not about women getting free access to contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs. Quite the contrary, giving women free access to contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs results in a war on women.
President Obama, pro-abortion and pro-contraception politicians, and news media, hear me clearly:
I ask you to stop telling me the lie that this mandate, this unconstitutional mandate that forces religious institutions to offer free access to anti-health, anti-motherhood, human embryo-killing drugs, is for me when really it is against me and many other women in this country. This mandate is what has waged the war on women as well as religious organizations seeking to uphold their moral convictions.
As an American woman and speaker to the youth for the past ten years, I ask that you stop telling the lie that young women need birth control to thrive. Tell that to the countless number of young girls who have cried on my shoulder because an ignorant reliance on so called “safe” contraception encouraged them into promiscuous lifestyles that promised everything and delivered nothing but broken promises, broken hearts, and outright depression their already legal access to birth control had created.
I ask that you stop telling the lie that birth control access is necessary for equality. Combating gender inequality by promoting birth control only tells women that they must become more like men—humans who can have sex and not get pregnant—in order to succeed. Women should not have to change who we are, or sacrifice our femininity, in order to be equal voices in society.
You are offering us a free pill to cure what disease, Mr. President? Female fertility? Fertility is not a disease; it is a gift and a sign of good health. The war on female fertility and on motherhood is the real war on women!
I ask that you stop telling the lie that this mandate promotes public health when many who use birth control now have to live with an incurable STD and others are left pregnant and alone after their contraception fails.
Please don’t tell me this war to ensure access to free birth control is for people like my friend, whose hand I held days before she died of breast cancer at age 32. She had been on oral contraception for years, and was never told that the National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization, Mayo Clinic Proceedings and others warn clearly that hormonal contraception can dramatically increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Please don’t tell me you are doing this for women like her.
You see, President Obama, what you don’t know about me is that I have a condition where my blood clots too much and doctors have informed me that taking contraception can have fatal consequences because it can cause stroke or heart attack. For my own health, thank goodness I have never taken birth control as I only found out about this condition at age 34! I share this condition with over 15 million other people in America, many of whom have no idea they have it until something threatens their life. Birth control is a threat to their very existence and mine.
You see, I cannot in good conscience encourage the use of a drug I know can have negative emotional, physical and fatal effects, nor can a good and growing number of physicians I know.
Not the Catholic Church, but my own conscience is telling me it is wrong to promote these drugs that have proven to be harmful to women.
Catholic healthcare is my refuge. It is where my conscience can be free from burden. Catholic healthcare, and all health care that recognizes the dignity of women and their unborn children is my refuge against the war on women.
I applaud the Catholic Church for being an institution that seeks to serve and build a culture of life for all people whether they are of our faith or not, without fear of criticism or backlash. I applaud the Catholic Church and our many allies of faith and conscience for protecting the religious liberty of every American citizen.
The integrity of Catholic healthcare must be preserved. President Obama, please, for the sake of women and all Americans, allow us to have places to turn to that do not violate our God-given right to follow our consciences. Do not strip Catholic healthcare of what makes it so wonderful!
President Obama and HHS Mandate supporters, Americans shouldn’t have to check our morals at the door of your anti-religious, pro-abortion, and pro-contraception politics. It is un-American and we deserve better than this!
To watch the actual speech, click here.