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Little Sisters of the Poor must comply with contraceptive mandate, US appeals court rules

July 14, 2015

A US federal appeals court has ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor must comply with the contraceptive mandate in the “Obamacare” health plan.

The Tenth Circuit Court ruled that the Little Sisters are not an exempt religious institution because they are not directly affiliated with any particular house of worship. The court said that the Obama administration has provided sufficient accommodation for non-profit organizations—such as the Little Sisters—that have moral objections to providing contraceptive coverage.

Under the latest plan offered by the Obama administration, the Little Sisters would be required to provide the federal government with a formal declaration that they object to the contraceptive mandate. By filing that form, they would trigger government action requiring their insurer to pay for contraceptive coverage.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, like other religious institutions that have challenged the mandate, argue that the filing of that form is a violation of their conscience rights, since by filing it they ensure that the contraceptives will be provided. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, saying: “Plaintiffs have not shown any likelihood that their sending in the Form or the notification would convey a message of support for contraception.”

Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who was lead attorney for the Little Sisters, expressed keen disappointment with the decision. He said that it is “a national embarrassment that the world’s most powerful government insists that, instead of providing contraceptives through its own existing exchanges and programs, it must crush the Little Sisters’ faith and force them to participate.”

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Little Sisters, said: “As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith.” She added: “All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

 


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: MAG - Jul. 15, 2015 8:38 AM ET USA

    Meanwhile, Vatican officials host a conference on climate change and welcome the nuclear treaty with Iran...

  • Posted by: jplaunder1846 - Jul. 15, 2015 8:23 AM ET USA

    Perhaps we are reaching a stage in history where Christians will need to indulge in civil disobedience on these conscience issues. Let us see whether the secular powers will be prepared to gaol elderly nuns.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Jul. 14, 2015 11:00 PM ET USA

    I wonder if Sister Maguire has read "Lord of the World" by Robert Hugh Benson? I'll bet she has! Others, who have not read it since Pope Francis recommended it at a recent press confrence, might want to know that it is a free Kindle download at Amazon.com. Not sure exactly how much of the novel the Pope wanted us to pay attention to, but it sure is interesting reading. Of course, it is a novel!