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Among Women 235: Women Speak for Themselves, with Helen Alvaré

Among Women 235: Women Speak for Themselves, with Helen Alvaré

This is the episode that almost wasn’t! Hope you don’t miss this latest episode of Among Women. 

After a tech failure and a long-awaited repair to the recording, I dive into a discussion with Helen Alvaré, law professor from George Mason University, and founder of Women Speak for Themselves and Reconnect Media. We enjoy a very engaging conversation on a variety of subjects including improving our public discourse on pro-life issues and so much more: #MeToo, love, sex, marriage, contraception, and making a positive impact on the culture.

Plus, in this episode we look at the life of St. Prisca, a married woman from the first century church, and her witness and service to St. Paul and others.

Listen here!

Helen Alvare in action before a Congressional Committee reviewing on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Women Speak for Themselves (WSFT) is a pro-woman, pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family women’s advocacy group I’ve recommended to my readers and listeners before. More recently here.

Please make yourself familiar with it on Facebook too.

Here’s a video below of WSFT founder Helen Alvare as she testified today at the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” This legislation would make the Hyde amendment permanent and government-wide and would stop funding abortion insurance coverage in the “Affordable Care Act” (P.L. 111-148).

Professor Helen Alvare, from George Mason University, in action.

Here’s some media follow up on the “Women Speak for Themselves” rally in DC

Some of you may have heard about the Washington DC rally, hosted by Women Speak for Themselves held yesterday. While I did not have the luxury of attending, I really support this message, so I just wanted to add a few related articles that I came across in the aftermath of the event.

By the way, you can still sign the letter to President Obama voicing your objection to the mandate.

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In other news, you may be wondering why I’ve not posted anything yet on Pope Francis’ remarks regarding the need for a deeper theology of women in the church. I have a piece that I’ve written and when it breaks online, I’ll let you know. Maybe this Sunday night/Monday morning. We’ll see when. I’ll also be discussing it on a future Among Women podcast.

RALLY THURSDAY in Wash DC: “Women Speak for Themselves!” Can’t go? Sign this letter!

RALLY THURSDAY in Wash DC: “Women Speak for Themselves!” Can’t go? Sign this letter!

600221_360170150776326_1642435042_aIn the past year, I’ve been watching the growth of “Women Speak for Themselves”, led by Helen Alvare and Kim Daniels, on the question of religious liberty and HHS Mandate. (Previously I’ve posted on it here, and on my former blog, here. You can also read my review of “Breaking Through”, edited by Helen Alvare.)

There are two things you can do right now: 1) Plan on going to the rally, and/or 2) sign their letter to President Obama.

RALLY: A grass-roots style rally is being planned at 11am on Thursday at Lafayette Square,  H St. between 15 and 17th Sts. NW, Washington DC.  More details, if you are going.

LETTER: If you can not attend the rally, by all means, SIGN the LETTER to President Obama decrying how this HHS mandate threatens our religious freedom. Or “like”the Women Speak for Themselves Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.

Information on this issue: (What follows is reprinted from the WSFT website):

1. What the fight is about:

Our objection to the “preventive health care” mandate is not about making contraception illegal. Birth control is legally protected by the Constitution itself.

It is not about whether the government will continue to fund it; both federal and state governments will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to provide free or low-cost contraception to American women annually.

It is only about whether the government can force religious institutions and individuals to provide contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs to our employees via health insurance.

2. The mandate burdens our religious freedom:

Forcing educational, health care or other religious institutions to provide their employees something which directly conflicts with their religious teachings is a straightforward burden on the free exercise of religion. When religious people gather together to provide care for our “neighbor” as commanded by Jesus’ teachings in the Good Samaritan parable, they are no less “exercising” their religion than when they pray or worship God with their fellow believers. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est:

Love of neighbour… is …a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level….. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love … needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community.

He added:

 The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in exercising the ministry of charity

3. The mandate burdens our religious freedom even if the government claims that insurance companies or third parties will “pay for” the services which violate religious conscience

The federal government is proposing to amend the current mandate (after the Fall 2012 election) so that religious institutions will not be “cooperating” in the provision of objectionable services. Insurance companies or third parties would arrange to provide and pay for contraception. There are two problems with this proposed amendment.

First, insurance companies will simply fold the costs of contraception into the price of insurance charged to religious institutions.

Second, no matter how the accounting looks on paper, the fact remains that this proposal allows the government to reach into the internal affairs of religious institutions and restructure the terms of employment. More, to change it from a workplace and a ministry that embodies and defers to religious witness…to one which is indistinguishable from any other private or public institution.

4. But Didn’t President Obama “Accommodate” Religious Employers?

He promised he would but he didn’t. Instead, he extended the deadline (to August 2013) for religious institutions to figure out how to violate their consciences, or face legal penalties. The originally proposed rule – requiring religious hospitals, schools, social services, etc. to cover contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can act as abortifacients – is presently in force.

5. Should it matter that many Catholics disagree with the Church’s teachings on contraception?

Several responses are possible.

First, remember that the rule also mandates coverage of drugs that can act as early abortifacients.

Second, the government is constitutionally forbidden from reaching into religious institutions and telling them to comply with the preferences of members who disagree with the institution’s religious doctrines.

Third, many Catholics and non-Catholics who don’t understand or who haven’t accepted Catholic teachings on contraception are upset at the government’s attempting to dictate the behavior of religious institutions, and grateful at the Catholic Church’s critical stance toward the medical and social effects of contraception.

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Related reading: An opinion piece, “Religious Freedom is about More Than Religion”, by Robert P. George.