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Local

HHS mandate rally set for Oct. 20 in Woodstock

WOODSTOCK – A national protest against the HHS mandate will materialize locally as a rally on the lawn of the courthouse Oct. 20.

The HHS mandate, so called because of its unveiling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, requires that private companies offer all FDA-approved contraception at no charge under their health insurance plans.

The rally will be the third national call to action by the Coalition to Stop the HHS Mandate. The previous two rally dates, March 23 and June 8, produced national participation from more than 125,000 people, according to the coalition’s website, standupforreligiousfreedom.com.

Locally, about 550 people took part in the June 8 rally at the courthouse.

Rick Nevsimal, a local organizer of the event, said its purpose is “to make people aware about the mandate.”

Religious organizations are exempt so long as their purpose is to inculcate religious doctrine, hire and serve exclusively people of their own faith, and qualify as a church or religious order under the tax code’s definition, according to the coalition.

The mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act and went into effect Aug. 1, has faced criticism from religious organizations that say its practices are a violation of religious freedom, and that the religious exemption is too strict to cover many organizations that don’t believe in contraception.

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