Little Sisters to Take Contraceptive Mandate to Supreme Court

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by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 24, 2015   

"The government wants to say that the Little Sisters' theology is wrong"

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WASHINGTON, July 24, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of women religious, is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court over Obama's Health and Human Services contraception mandate.

Last week, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Little Sisters must sign off on the government finding free third-party coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients for their employees. The Sisters refuse to cooperate in such evil, however, and will fight the decision at the nation's highest court.

While the Supreme Court has allowed closely held, for-profit companies to be exempted from the mandate as a matter of religious freedom, the Tenth Circuit court says otherwise for non-profits. The argument is that non-profits have an option for third-party accommodations that for-profits don't.

"Although we recognize and respect the sincerity of plaintiffs' beliefs and arguments," the federal appeals court stated last week, "we conclude the accommodation scheme ... does not substantially burden their religious exercise."

"The accommodation relieves plaintiffs from complying with the mandate and guarantees they will not have to provide, pay for, or facilitate contraceptive coverage," reasoned the judges.

The problem is that the Sisters would indeed have to facilitate contraceptive coverage — namely, by signing the U.S. Department of Labor's EBSA Form 700, which gives permission to the government to go through the trouble of finding the coverage provider. 

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters, said after the decision, "As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith."

"And we should not have to make that choice," she asserted, "because it violates our nation's commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God's calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity."

"All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion," said Sr. Maguire.

So, unless the Supreme Court overturns the federal court's decision, the Sisters will be forced to violate their consciences, or else they'll have to pay millions in penalties, or be shut down altogether.

A lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm defending the Sisters, states, "The government wants to say that the Little Sisters' theology is wrong and [that they] aren't religious enough to get respect for their faith. This is the core of the case, the 'theology is wrong' point comes in, because they're saying that the Little Sisters [are wrong] when they say, 'We have a sincere objection.'"

The Becket Fund observed in a press release yesterday, "They are seeking relief from a 100-page decision by the 10th Circuit that disagrees with the ministries' understanding of moral theology."

 

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Ryan Fitzgerald is a staff writer and producer for ChurchMilitant.com

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanFitz1111