California and Pennsylvania Force Little Sisters of the Poor Back to Court with Lawsuits Challenging Their Religious Exemption
Mark Martin : Nov 22, 2017
"We just want to be able to continue our religious mission of caring for the elderly poor as we have over 175 years. We pray that these state governments will leave us alone and let us do our work in peace." -Mother Loraine Marie Maguire with the Little Sisters of the Poor
[CBN News] The Little Sisters of the Poor are returning to court after several states filed lawsuits against the religious exemption from the new Department of Health and Human Services rule, according to Becket, the non-profit law firm representing the Catholic nuns in California and Pennsylvania. (Photo: Little Sisters of the Poor/via CBN News)
Last month, HHS handed down a new rule with a broad religious exemption for non-profits like the Little Sisters to prevent them from having to make available services in their healthcare plans that violate their faith, like the week-after pill.
California and Pennsylvania filed lawsuits a short time after the new mandate was issued to stop the religious exemption.
California's lawsuit claims the new rule is unconstitutional because it singles out and harms women, blocking their Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection under the law. The suit also claims the rule change permits employers to discriminate against employees through their religious beliefs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Millions of women could be denied needed contraceptive care against the advice of science, public health and medical professionals," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a press conference at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania's clinic last month, according to The Inquirer.
The Little Sisters of the Poor are requesting the court intervenes to make sure they don't have to go against their faith when providing healthcare plans.
"Becket has argued all along that the government has many ways to provide services to women who want them as well as protect the Little Sisters," a case summary states on Becket's website. "Neither the federal government nor the state governments need nuns to help them give out contraceptives."
"We just want to be able to continue our religious mission of caring for the elderly poor as we have over 175 years," said Mother Loraine Marie Maguire with the Little Sisters of the Poor, according to Townhall. "We pray that these state governments will leave us alone and let us do our work in peace."
In what was hailed as a victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor in May 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ordered lower courts to once again review a case involving Obamacare's contraception mandate.
The mandate in question required religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.
"The Supreme Court said that the Little Sisters are protected from having to pay these massive government fines or choose to violate their religious beliefs, and the Supreme Court accepted the admission from the government that the government can modify to be more respectful of religious liberty," said Becket attorney Stephanie Barclay at the time.
The high court justices instructed both parties to work out a compromise that would eliminate any faith-based concerns.