On Friday I had the great honor of being one of the speakers for the Toledo Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. I was able to join on stage an Rev. Mark Hodges, pastor of St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lima, Sister Cecilia Mary Sartorius, mother superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Oregon, Monica Martinez of the Diocese of Toledo, and Bishop Leonard Blair in speaking out against this atrocious mandate. Here is the speech that I gave:
Good Afternoon! I am honored to be speaking before you all. I am so glad to see so many individuals standing up for religious freedom! I am a medical student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and will be starting my training as a family physician in June. My wife and I have also been teaching NFP in Toledo for the past three years. As a soon to be doctor, the fight against this mandate is extremely important to me.
I wanted to first speak to you in my capacity as a medical professional. From my perspective and that of many physicians around the country, this mandate does not make medical sense. Now, I am not talking about the morality of contraception or even the health concerns of side effects of hormonal contraception and sterilization, but rather the fact that the government is mandating that we cover a medication and procedure that destroys a healthy physiologic state and that we are supposed to call this preventative care. A recent post of the blog Catholic Vote made an excellent point in regards to the Affordable Care Act and subsequent clarifications (under which this Mandate falls): She writes: You know that old sesame street song: “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” Among the conditions targeted [In this act] are alcoholism, depression, HIV, syphilis, diabetes, breast cancer, and fertility. Which of these things just doesn’t belong?
This attitude that our government has taken towards fertility simply baffles me. This just isn’t good medicine. But then again, this Mandate is not about medicine. Rather this Mandate is about the erosion of religious liberty and conscience rights in the United States. Once the government is able to force us to pay for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacients, then how long before hospitals and physicians will be forced to perform sterilizations or physicians be forced to write the prescriptions? How long before you all are unable to receive healthcare that respects your beliefs?
The success of this mandate will be measured by how quickly and effectively Catholics and Christians are driven out of healthcare and education completely. It is about how the government can keep Catholic and Christian businessmen and women from being successful, and it is about restricting which professions and jobs we can pursue. For if we are to be adhere to the teachings of our Faith and follow our conscience, how can we keep our Hospitals, Universities, and businesses open? And when these close and we are out of work, they win.
We cannot let this happen. We are the frontline in the defense of religious liberty and conscience protection. This is not just about protecting institutions, but about protecting the religious liberty of the individual, for that is whom the First Amendment is written. It is our individual witness, each and every day, that is going to turn this tide. We must tell our family, friends, and colleagues what is going on and the Truth about this Mandate. There are many misconceptions about this Mandate and distortions in regards to why we are opposing it. I have had to face down colleagues and my superiors in defense of our religious liberty in the very hospitals in Toledo. And there many fellow Catholics and other Christians who have no idea that this fight is even occurring. And so We must stand up and be willing to be Martyrs in defense of our Faith and religious liberty, to show this country that we will not back down, and I pray that through this all, we will prevail and regain the freedom that is rightfully ours.
We had an excellent turnout with estimates around 1000 people! There were many priests, religious, families, and business men and women present in the crowd. I was amazed at the turn out and so happy to see so many concerned with this issue. We even had media coverage which was for the most part non-biased. I was interviewed by the local Fox Affiliate, which you can watch here: http://www.foxtoledo.com/dpp/news/local/standing-up-for-religious-freedom?ref=scroller&categoryId=20000&status=true
And here is a video of the Bishop’s address to the crowd.
I will try to keep posting pictures and videos as they come available.