The war on Christianity continues as yesterday a federal appeals court in Denver ruled against agroup of Colorado nuns who challenged a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception.
Though religious groups are already exempt from covering contraceptives, the plaintiffs – the Little Sisters of the Poor as well as four Christian colleges in Oklahoma – argued the exemption doesn’t go far enough because they must sign away the coverage to another party, making them feel as though they had a hand in providing contraceptives.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.
The court ruled that because the Little Sisters of the Poor had the option of signing a form that would transfer covering contraceptives to a third-party, they failed to show that the ObamaCare mandate placed a burden on their right to exercise freedom of religion.
Following the ruling, Sister Loraine Marie Maguire said “we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith.”
Maguire added that forcing the Little Sister of the Poor to make that choice “violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives.”
About The Little Sisters Of The Poor
Thousands of elderly poor have a home today because of one remarkable woman.
Saint Jeanne Jugan grew up in a small town in the aftermath of the French revolution. Times were hard. The winters were brutal. To support her family, Jeanne worked from a young age as a shepherdess, kitchen maid, and tending the sick at a Civil and Naval Hospital. In this last position, she discovered her life’s vocation: helping others.
Confident in her Catholic faith, Jeanne set out to serve those most in need. She cared for the poor and the elderly as if they were her own family, even giving them her bed while she slept in the attic. Her humility and love of service spread among other young women, and the religious community of the Little Sisters of the Poor was born.
A Vocation to Serve the Poor
Today, the Little Sisters of the Poor–an international Roman Catholic Congregation of Religious Sisters–have continued Jeanne’s mission to serve others. The Little Sisters of the Poor arrived in America in 1868. Currently, there are thirty homes in the United States where the elderly and dying are treated as if they were Jesus himself and cared for with love and dignity until God calls them home. The Little Sisters serve more than 13,000 elderly poor people in thirty-one countries around the world.
The Little Sisters adhere to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In accordance with their faith, they uphold the unique, inviolable dignity of all human life, especially those deemed weak or, to some, “worthless” in society. The federal government’s contraception and abortion mandate, however, forces the Little Sisters to provide services that destroy human life, contradicting their very mission to respect it.
Although the government does allow exemptions for church and church-type entities from the HHS Mandate for religious reasons, this accommodation does nothing for the Little Sisters. Because the government refuses to classify them as a “religious employer,” the Little Sisters are required to hire a third party to provide these objectionable services to their employees, and thus are still forced to participate in the government’s scheme. Believing that every human person has God-given worth, the Little Sisters cannot provide contraceptive, abortion, and sterilization services that go against their religious beliefs.
The Becket Fund Defends the Little Sisters
The Becket Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, seeking to uphold their right to carry out their vows of obedience in their service to the poor. The suit is a class action lawsuit, and the lead plaintiffs are the Little Sisters homes in Denver and Baltimore. The suit seeks protection not only for the Little Sisters, but for other Catholic organizations that provide health benefits consistent with their religious faith through the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust and Christian Brothers Services. This is the7th lawsuit challenging the administration’s HHS Mandate filed by the Becket Fund, which also represents: Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Ave Maria University, Wheaton College, Reaching Souls International, and Hobby Lobby in similar lawsuits.
After the trial court and Tenth Circuit denied a preliminary injunction, on New Year’s Eve Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted the Little Sisters a temporary injunction protecting them from enforcement of the mandate, which was scheduled to take effect against them at midnight. On January 24, 2014, the entire Supreme Court granted the Little Sisters an injunction pending appeal, protecting them from enforcement while they litigate their appeal at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. That briefing has now been completed. Oral argument took place on December 8, 2014.