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The latest coverage related to the debate over the federal health care law - both in the US Supreme Court and how it touches the St. Louis region.

Hundreds rally against contraception mandate at Mo. Capitol

Religious anti Obamacare rally 3-27-12 A.jpg
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
iPad photo of the Protect our Religious Liberty rally inside the Mo. Capitol on March 27, 2012.

Two rallies in Jefferson City today each called for the repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and for employers to have the right to not provide coverage for birth control.

Several hundred people attended the rally held at the State Capitol, led by several religious leaders.  Maggie Karner with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod told the crowd that President Obama’s birth control mandate is an attack on religious freedom.

“This debate is simply about us being forced to pay for products and services that are contrary to our religious beliefs, and we cannot be expected to check our faith at the door," Karner said.

Robert Carlson, the Catholic Archbishop of St. Louis, blasted both the mandate and the president’s compromise that followed, in which insurance companies for religious employers will provide contraceptive services.

“There is no free lunch…these drugs are not free," Carlson said.  "Somebody has to pay for them, and if the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another.”

The other rally took place at a hotel a few blocks from the Capitol.  It featured Tea Party activists and a number of Republican officeholders.

Meanwhile, legislation that would bar forced coverage for birth control, abortion, and sterilization has received first-round approval in the Missouri Senate.  Democrats spent most of the day blocking the bill, then ended their filibuster shortly before 4:00 p.m.  

When the rally at the State Capitol ended, participants who exited from the south side encountered more than a thousand labor union members holding a rally to oppose legislation that would suspend the prevailing wage law in Joplin and other parts of the state hit by natural disasters.

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