Rep. Kathy Hochul at Lancaster town hall meeting
LANCASTER, NY - Representative Kathy Hochul (D - 26th District) was booed at her own town hall meeting on Friday morning in Lancaster.
The packed crowd was critical of Hochul for supporting President Obama's plan to require religiously affiliated employers, such as hospitals and schools, to provide full contraception coverage to female employees.
The plan was later altered. It now calls for those workers to get free contraceptive coverage from health insurers, thus sparing religious based groups, morally opposed to paying for birth control, from having to do so.
Even though Hochul's town hall meeting was open to any topic, the large crowd focused on the contraception coverage issue.
When Hochul spoke in support of the President, the crowd booed. Many in the audience carried signs, including one that read: "Kathy why have you betrayed our Catholic institutions?" One woman in the crowd told Hochul: "This President has lied to us repeatedly when he proclaims support for conscience protection in his infamous speech at Notre Dame as well as in the executive order he signed following passage of the health care law. He is not worthy of your support in this matter." Another man shouted "It's an insult to the Catholics in this country to even listen to that gibberish. It is an absolute insult and Catholics deserve better. We were taking care of this country's sick long before the government got involved in it."
Pastor Leon Biernat of Our Lady of Pompeii Church also asked Hochul if the President or Congress consulted with Catholic bishops before they issued the policy. Hochul replied that it was a good question and she would try to get an answer. The Congresswoman also replied this way to the questions and criticism "We're not gonna agree on this one. I'm gonna tell you that I will stand for our religious freedoms. But I don't see a conflict here. Now that there's been an accommodation that says religious institutions do not have to provide these services. So we're just going to have to disagree on that."
The meeting was heavily publicized on Catholic radio and many Catholic organizations encouraged people to attend and discuss the contraception issue. It was also brought up specifically by Father Biernat during his Mass on February 5th when he criticized President Obama and Congresswoman Hochul.