Waiting for the Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally on Capitol Hill to begin on Friday, David Bereit, founder of the anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life, explained to me, with the patience of a dedicated crusader accustomed to repeating talking points, why he is “proud to be standing” with the coalition of groups who are protesting, relentlessly, that the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act infringes on their religious freedom. But while Bereit, who is not Catholic, said he is “opposed to the government mandating contraception coverage,” he would not give me a straight answer on whether he is opposed to contraception.
As the “religious freedom” wars have heated up over the United States Department of Health and Human Services’s contraception mandate, and as non-Catholic groups have taken up the mantle of the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion, there has been a blurring of lines between activists whose primary objection is to end abortion and those who are also opposed to contraception. Under the “religious freedom” banner, and in particular the Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies, are a wide array of organizations that include those once considered fringe, such as Bereit’s former employer, the anti-contraception American Life League, and Operation Rescue.
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