Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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Congress

 

50,000 Ask Bernie Sanders to Apologize for Attack on Trump Nominee's Faith

Daily Signal

June 13, 2017

Over 50,000 individuals so far have signed an online petition asking Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to apologize for his public attack on the Christian beliefs of President Donald Trump's nominee for a post in the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders "responded in anger after Russell Vought, President Trump's nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, answered a question about his belief that salvation is found alone through Jesus Christ," the petition drafted by the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative policy organization, reads. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told The Daily Signal in an interview Tuesday that Sanders' comments during Vought's hearing June 7 before the Senate Budget Committee showed intolerance to religious freedom. "I think what we saw from Bernie Sanders last week was just a blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance," Perkins said.

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Draft HHS Rule a Win for Religious Freedom

Members of Congress news release

June 7, 2017

Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) joined with Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02), Martha Roby (R-AL-02), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-05) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04) praising the leaked Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that would exempt employers from providing contraceptive coverage for employees on the basis of moral or religious objection. Black, Walorski, Roby, Foxx and Hartzler released the following statements: "Obamacare has devastated religious organizations, schools, and businesses, forcing them to cover abortion-related services that violate their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a foundational principle of this country, and this draft rule is a victory against President Obama's assault on people of faith nationwide. Americans will no longer have to seek a burdensome exemption from the heavy hand of government, they will be left alone to practice their religion as they choose," said Congressman Black. "This leaked draft provides important exemptions for organizations with religious or moral objections to the HHS mandate," said Congresswoman Hartzler, who chairs the House Values Action Team. "In other words, religious charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based universities, family-owned businesses, and individuals with moral objections will now be able to provide employees with health care policies consistent with their conscience and the organizations' mission.

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VIDEO: Blunt Applauds President's Executive Order

Sen. Roy Blunt video

May 4, 2017

"It's unbelievable to me that, in recent years, groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, or Christian colleges, or other groups that are traditionally providing services are suddenly having to find themselves in court defending who they are, and who they hope to be. The order issued today would finally provide that relief in a case like the Little Sisters of the Poor...I hope this Executive Order makes it clear today that harassment of religious groups is going to stop. There's no question in any Americans' mind, I think, that the United States government should do everything in its power to defend and protect religious freedom. Whether you're a person of faith, or no faith at all, you should be able to pursue those beliefs."

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Dozens of lawmakers press Trump for religious freedom protection

Catholic News Agency

May 2, 2017

More than 50 members of Congress have written President Donald Trump asking for a broad executive order that protects religious freedom. "Freedom to follow one's conscience, faith and deeply held moral convictions is at the heart of our country's identity," said Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), one of the letter's signatories. Religious freedom advocates have warned that, due to various mandates and rules issued during the Obama administration, religious institutions that uphold traditional marriage or do not cooperate with abortions and contraceptive use could soon face federal action if no executive order is issued to protect them. Currently, the Weldon Amendments bars federal funding of states that force employers to provide abortion coverage for employees. But after California ruled that health care plans - including those of churches and religious organizations - had to include coverage for elective abortions, the head of the Office of Civil Rights at the federal Department of Health and Human Services decided last summer that the state had not violated the Weldon Amendment. An executive order, the Congressmen claim, could fix this violation of the freedoms of churches and religious employers.

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House Values Leaders Meet with Secretary Price on Conscience Protections

House Majority Leader

May 1, 2017

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Chairman Diane Black (TN-06), and Representatives Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Andy Harris (MD-01), Stephen Knight (CA-25), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Peter Roskam (IL-06), and Chris Smith (NJ-04) released the following statement after meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price on how the California abortion mandate violates the Weldon Amendment and other ways federal conscience protections were undermined by the previous Administration: "The Weldon Amendment protects health care entities-from hospitals to insurance providers-from being discriminated against by the government if they don't provide or cover abortions, especially if doing so violates their consciences. The last Administration ignored this fact and refused to enforce the law, including in California, where health insurance providers are being forced to offer abortion coverage." (posted 4/26/17)

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Representatives protest Obamacare transgender reg

US House of Representatives letter

October 6, 2016

First, this rule for the first time in history requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures or treatments on patients including children, even if the doctor believes the procedures could be harmful. Second, HHS's own experts have acknowledged that the clinical literature is "inconclusive " on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria, and that some studies have "reported harms." Third, in other contexts where the government requires services related to gender transition procedures, the government has clearly protected the medical judgment and moral or religious beliefs of healthcare professionals. Fourth, the number of doctors and healthcare providers covered by this rule is breathtaking. By HHS's own estimation, this rule will "likely cover almost all licensed physicians," which you estimate as totaling over 900,000. Finally, the rule purports to prohibit discrimination on the basis of "termination of pregnancy ."

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Meet the Senator Opposing Obama's Mandate for Transgender Bathrooms in Schools

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

October 5, 2016

But instead of attacking the Obama administration on the policy itself, which allows transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex, Lankford is taking a different approach. The 48-year-old senator is challenging the process the executive branch used to implement the sweeping policy, arguing that it was wholly unlawful. "This administration has been notoriously focused not on passing legislation, but trying to find ways to be able to do things through regulation," Lankford told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. "But even as they try to do things through regulation, they're not trying to actually follow the rules of regulation-they're just making it up as they go, and trying to push as hard as they can and saying, ‘Sue me ... I'm going to do what I want.'"

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Protect Your Military Chaplains from a Bully

FRC blog by Chris Gacek

September 2, 2016

In attendance were several uniformed military chaplains. They included the Chief of Chaplains of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. (Chaplain) Dondi Costin, who delivered a benediction while in uniform. Several members of the House and one United States Senator were also in attendance. This allowed anti-Christian activist "Mikey" Weinstein an opportunity to attack Maj. Gen Costin and two other chaplains for their participation in the event by filing a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, Glenn Fine. With typically histrionic and excessive rhetoric, Weinstein asked that all three be formally disciplined. Weinstein presents a pretext for attacking Rep. Forbes and the event based on the Congressman's opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and his orthodox Christian beliefs about sexuality and marriage. Given Weinstein's longstanding track record of anti-Christian animus, his raising of LGBT issues is mere window-dressing.

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Congress, we must protect Americans who disagree with abortion

FOX News commentary by Rep. Vicky Hartzler

July 14, 2016

Currently, the only recourse against this discrimination is to file a complaint with OCR. In light of its extremely slow response to straightforward complaints or its outright refusal to execute the law, something had to be done. The House this week passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill I proudly co-sponsored. This bill stops the federal government, and any state or local government that receives Federal funds from penalizing, retaliating against, or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Further, this bill provides a civil right to action for those discriminated against, including physicians, health professionals, hospitals, health systems, insurance issuers, insurance plans, and administrators of health plans, among others. They deserve a choice. They deserve their day in court.

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Forum on Conscience Protections

U.S. House Representatives

July 8, 2016

PARTICIPANTS

Marie-Alberte Boursiquot, M.D. - Pres., Catholic Medical Association - Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President, Alliance of Catholic Health Care - Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York - Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former AD Secretariat Pro-Life Activities, USCCB - Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California - Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of AAPLOG - Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California - Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom - Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey - Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author, Weldon Amendment - Prepared remarks

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SCOTUS' Failure to Review Washington State's Coercive Regulation Disturbing

Rep. Randy Forbes and Sen. James Lankford

June 29, 2016

Congressman Forbes: "The Supreme Court's refusal to review Washington State's extreme and unnecessary regulations is, in the words of Justice Alito, "an ominous sign" for religious freedom in America. It is possible to both respect the religious beliefs of a pharmacist and also help customers secure the prescription they are seeking. As a nation founded on the fundamental right of religious freedom, the United States has a tradition of protecting the conscientious objector that has endured throughout our history, but the Court has done great damage to these protections by allowing Washington's regulation to stand."
Senator Lankford: "This decision by the Supreme Court denies the free exercise of religion as a fundamental human right. In order to exercise this right, individuals must be able to live out their faith in the public square; otherwise, the right is relegated simply to the freedom of worship. With this case, the Court put the right to contraceptives above the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Conscience protection has always been honored in America, until now. This decision allows any government to compel a person to violate their faith or surrender their family business. That is un-American.

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"Freedom of Worship" Isn't Enough

Wall Street Journal commentary by John J. Miller

June 9, 2016

On March 28, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a revision. The phrase "freedom of worship" would be changed to "freedom of religion." The notice came in a letter from the agency's director, Leon Rodriguez, to Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who called for the correction last year. The switch allows the naturalization exam to reflect the actual language of the Constitution: The word "worship" does not appear anywhere in its text, whereas the First Amendment promises "the free exercise" of "religion."

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Senator Lankford Defends Religious Freedom in Major CPAC Speech

Sen. James Lankford press release

March 3, 2016

"We, as conservatives, should lead the way-to be able to speak out for people to believe in any faith, or to have no faith at all. Because it is a basic tenant of our beliefs that people should be able to live out their faith... It's become an amazing transition that people are beginning to be afraid of people of faith living their faith out. Why people would be afraid of a baby Jesus on the courthouse lawn or a Menorah in a city park absolutely confounds me. We are people of faith. People can choose to live their faith as they choose to." CLICK HERE to view the C-SPAN video of the speech.

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Goodlatte Urges Public Colleges and Universities to Update Free Speech Codes

House Judiciary Committee

August 14, 2015

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today sent a letter to 161 public colleges and universities urging the institutions to update their free speech codes in order to foster freedoms under the First Amendment. The letter comes after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a report detailing a list of public colleges and universities that received a “red light” rating--“one that has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Recently, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing examining First Amendment protections for students on public college and university campuses.

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Lee, Labrador Introduce Bill Protecting Religious LIberty

Sen. Mike Lee

June 17, 2015

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), today reintroduced legislation to clarify and strengthen religious liberty protections in federal law, by safeguarding those individuals and institutions who promote traditional marriage from government retaliation. The First Amendment Defense Act  (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. For example, the bill would prohibit the IRS from stripping a church of its tax exemption for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings. "There’s a reason the right to religious liberty appears first in our nation’s Bill of Rights,” said Senator Lee.

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Senator Lankford: Change Citizenship Language to Reflect Freedom of Religion

Sen. James Lankford

June 8, 2015

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today urged the Department of Homeland Security to change all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization and citizenship materials to reflect our First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion, instead of simply the "freedom of worship." Currently, the naturalization test civics questions only reflect "freedom of worship."

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America was 'Founded on the Principle of Religious Freedom'

Speaker John Boehner news release

April 30, 2015

"America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise' clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution."

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Is the Obama Administration Doing All it Can to Protect Christians?

Blog, Speaker John Boehner, commentary by Matt Wolking

April 22, 2015

The global swell of radical Islamic terrorism led by the Islamic State (ISIL) has ushered in an exceptionally dangerous era for religious minorities, particularly Christians. On Sunday, a video surfaced depicting the execution of dozens of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, a country that has descended into terrorism-fueled chaos in recent years. Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said, "We've taken steps regardless of an individual's religious identity to try to protect anybody who is being targeted because of that religious identity." Certainly, "working hard" and "taking steps" to protect "anybody" is better than nothing, but is the White House "doing all it can to protect Christians"? It seems we have our answer...

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Lawmakers fight to close abortion insurance coverage loophole

World Magazine

March 10, 2015

"Religious freedom is a bedrock value of our society but, on President Obama's watch, this time-honored principle is under assault," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. "From Obamacare's coercive HHS mandate to the unlawful, pro-abortion directive by the state boards in California, it is clear that Congress must act where the White House will not and reverse this infringement of our First Amendment rights." Pro-life lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation similar to HR 940 for several years. But this year, Black, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Rep. John Fleming, R-La., plan to combine HR 940 with an appropriations bill to increase its chances of passing.

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Hats Off To The University Of Tennessee For Standing Up For Public Prayer

Daily Caller commentary by Sen. Marco Rubio

October 2, 2014

Earlier this season, the university rejected the demands of anti-religion interest groups to stop Tennessee's tradition of observing a moment of non-denominational prayer praying before kickoff. Earlier this year, an anti-religion group went after Clemson University and its football coach Dabo Swinney. Another instance was a case involving prayer in legislative bodies, which ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. I filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending this practice, which dates back to the Founding Fathers of our nation, because it has been an enduring, living symbol of the religious freedom America stands for.

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Sens. Ayotte, Fischer: Stop Distorting Hobby Lobby Decision

Newsmax

July 16, 2014

Nothing in the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling denies a woman access to birth control, and attempts to misrepresent the facts of the case and its impact on women are divisive and damaging, say New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. "In the days since the Supreme Court's June 30 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, we have been troubled by those who seem eager to misrepresent both the facts of the case and the impact of its ruling on women - all to divide Americans and score political points in a tough election year," the women wrote.

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Senator Blunt Debunks Democrats' False Claims Regarding Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling

YouTube video

July 16, 2014

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the U.S. Senate floor today to debunk false claims made by Senate Democrats regarding the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which found that the Obama Administration infringed on Americans' First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Watch video.

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Congress addresses religious freedom cases

March 26, 2014

Rep. Joe Pitts (PA) speaks out on a Supreme Court religious liberty case involving a constituent family.

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Rep. Black Holds Press Conference on HHS Mandate

Video - Office of Rep. Diane Black

March 25, 2014

Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN) held a press conference following Supreme Court oral arguments in the landmark cases Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius. Other Members who participated were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Vicki Hartzler (R-MO), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Kevin Brady (R-TX), James Lankford (R-OK) and Joe Pitts (R-PA). Congressman Black is the author of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

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Rep. John Fleming addresses HHS mandate

VIDEO: House of Representatives

March 24, 2014

"The question is this: Can the government use the threat of crippling fines to force the owners of a business to violate their own deeply held beliefs?"

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Christians are most persecuted group on earth, legislators told

Catholic News Agency

February 12, 2014

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of congressional panel that oversees international human rights issues, said the event was intended to highlight that Christians "remain the most persecuted religious group the world over," even amid the persecution faced by adherents to other faiths. Elliott Abrams, commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, pointing to a report by the Government Accountability Office, that “the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor dramatically reduced the rank of the Ambassador-at-Large. This reduction in rank constitutes a major change in the structure [the International Religious Freedom Act] established and a thwarting of congressional intent.”

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U.N. Overreaches, Tramples Religious Freedom

National Review Online commentary by Marco Rubio

February 5, 2014

Unfortunately, the U.N. also chose to use the opportunity to make political statements about Catholic doctrine on abortion, contraception, and marriage, issues at the core of the Church's teachings about human rights and the dignity of life. In doing so, the U.N. - with the seemingly limitless worldwide injustices it could be condemning or investigating - trampled on the religious-freedom principles outlined in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Making the taxpayer an accessory to the abortion trade

Rep. Chris Smith in Washington Times

October 9, 2013

As with Mr. Obama's promise that Americans can keep their current health insurance policy if they like it, implementation in the Obamacare exchanges of massive public funding of abortion undermines the president's credibility and word. As a direct result, hundreds of thousands of unborn babies will needlessly die from dismemberment in surgical abortion or from chemical poisoning and forced expulsion from the womb.

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Effort to Secure Conscience Rights in HHS Mandate Fight

Catholic Examiner

July 29, 2012

Richard Doerflinger, the chief lobbyist on life issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the House Subcommittee appropriations bill as a "breakthrough" because the language from the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is included right in the spending bill and not in an amendment. "The real challenge will be for the Senate to accept it." he said. "One way or the other, there will be a vote."

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Lawsuits Challenging Contraception Rule Get Little Play

Roll Call: Senator Blunt considers intervening

May 23, 2012

Republican leaders might be trying to avoid getting re-entangled in the culture wars, but Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt on Tuesday said he is considering intervening in a legal challenge to a proposed federal contraception rule brought by Catholic organizations.

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Religious Liberty--Obamacare's First Casualty

Heritage Foundation video

May 18, 2012

The controversy over the Obama Administration's anti-conscience mandate and the fight for religious liberty only serves to highlight the inherent flaws in Obamacare. This conflict is a natural result of the centralization laid out under Obamacare and will only continue until the law is repealed in full.

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HHS Sec.: Preventing babies saves money

Congressional testimony by HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

March 1, 2012

Rep. Murphy: Who is going to pay for it? There’s no such thing as a free service.
Sebelius: The reduction in a number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception. The overall plan according…
TFM: Now I just want to get this on the record, Mr. Chairman. So you’re saying by not having babies born, we’re going to save money on healthcare?
Sebelius: Providing contraception as a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children reduces healthcare costs.

To view video, click "Read more" below

To view text, visit http://murphy.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=135&parentid=24&sectiontree=23,24,135&itemid=1959 

 

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House Judiciary Committee holds hearing on contraceptives coercion

"Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty"

February 28, 2012

The Judiciary Committee held a hearing Feb. 28, 2012 entitled, "Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty" Watch video clips:

  • Rep. Sandy Adams' exchange with witnesses Jeanne Monahan, Asma Uddin & Bishop Lori
  • Witness Jeanne Monahan's exchange with Chairman Lamar Smith
  • Witness Bishop Lori's exchange with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner
  • Witness Asma Uddin's exchange with Rep. Trent Franks (Part 2)
  • Witness Bishop Lori's exchange with Rep. Ted Poe

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Sen. Marco Rubio interview on contraception mandate

FOX News video

February 8, 2012

FOX News host Greta Van Susteren interviews Florida Senator Marco Rubio about the administration's coercive contraception mandate.

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