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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A rally at the Missouri Capitol has drawn about 200 people opposing a federal mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes coverage of contraception.

Friday's rally was one of dozens being held in cities throughout the country.

Speakers at the Jefferson City event said contraception, sterilization and abortion violate their moral beliefs. They said a government policy requiring insurance coverage for such things encroaches on religious freedom.

Bishop John Gaydos, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, was among those taking part. Gaydos says all Americans suffer without religious freedom and that the ability to have a free, creative and robust society is at stake.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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