Never underestimate the determination of nuns. Â On Monday, December 8, which is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Catholic national feast day in the United States, oral arguments were heard before the 10th circuit court of appeals in The Little Sisters of the Poor’s lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Little Sisters are one of hundreds of religious groups suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, provision that they must provide contraception, sterilization services, and abortifacients in the insurance coverage of their benefits package. Â They have been helped by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Â In the case of the Little Sisters, the objection is not simply coverage for procedures and medical intervention that Catholics believe are gravely immoral, but the slight of hand the Obama Administration attempted when they “revised” the original ObamaCare law.
Amid religious freedom concerns, the Obama administration revised the initial mandate, allowing religious employers such as the Little Sisters to sign a form that would trigger a separate health benefit provider to offer the coverage instead.
The Little Sisters object that they cannot in good conscience sign the form because it authorizes a third-party insurance company to provide the very products and procedures they believe to be gravely immoral.
â€œWhat the government has done, and itâ€™s a strange thing to do, is say, â€˜The only way weâ€™ll accept your objection is if on the same piece of paper saying â€˜I objectâ€™, you modify the plan to give someone else the authority to give out contraceptives on the plan,â€ said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, at a press conference following the oral arguments.
The Obama people thought they were being sneaky, but religious groups and orders were not fooled. Â Many of them receive benefits through the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust and Christian Brothers Services. Â The Christian Brothers are a fellow Catholic lay order. Â If the orders lose the lawsuit and in turn refuse to comply with the mandate, they will all be fined. Â In the case of the Little Sisters, to the tune of $2.5 million, which is almost half of their annual $6 million fundraising.
â€œAs Little Sisters of the Poor, we offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself,â€ Mother Loraine Marie Maguire told members of the press.
â€œBut now the government demands we choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith. We cannot do that and we should not have to.â€
The Little Sisters of the Poor have operated in the United States without disturbance and with distinction for 175 years. Â Their ministry is much needed in the face of rising end of life costs for everyone. Â Forcing them to violate faith in order to provide contraception to employees is simply unAmerican. Â There is no other word for it.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Little Sisters renew their vows. Â This year, in the United States, they defended them in a country that is supposed to guarantee religious freedom. Â The Little Sisters believe in such freedom, and they will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.