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Obama Admin Tells Supreme Court: Force Catholic Nuns to Obey Birth Control Mandate

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 1/3/14 11:52 AM

National

The Obama administration has filed legal papers appealing a decision by the Supreme Court to protect a group of Catholic nuns from being forced to obey the controversial birth control mandate.

As LifeNews reported this week, in a huge 11th-hour victory for pro-life advocates, the Supreme Court issued an order late Tuesday night stopping the Obama administration from forcing a group of Catholic nuns to obey the HHS mandate that compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs and birth control.

The group Little Sisters of the Poor received a temporary injunction from the Supreme Court protecting them from the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.  The injunction means that the Little Sisters will not be forced to sign and deliver forms authorizing and directing others to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and drugs and devices that cause abortions.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund, a pro-life legal group that represented the organization.  “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

But that’s just what the Obama administration did today.

In an interview after the decision, the White House said forcing the Catholic nuns to pay for those objectionable things that run counter to Catholic Church pro-life teachings strike’s the right “balance.”

It followed up on that comment with papers asking the Supreme Court not to exempt Catholic groups from the HHS mandate. The administration responded just before the Friday morning deadline.

“Applicants have no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement or to complain that it involves them in the process of providing contraceptive coverage.,” the Obama administration said in its papers.

The order was issued by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the Justice assigned for emergency applications from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Justice Sotomayor also ordered the federal government to file a brief in response to the Little Sisters’ application.

She gave government officials until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her order.

Prior to the order, preliminary injunctions had been awarded in 18 of the 20 similar cases in which relief had been requested.

“Virtually every other party who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” said Rienzi.  “It makes no sense for the Little Sisters to be singled out for fines and punishment before they can even finish their suit.”

The Little Sisters are joined in the lawsuit by religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust.  The Plaintiffs are also represented by Locke Lord, a national law firm, and by Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

Also this week, in a huge victory for Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, a federal appeals court issued a ruling saying it doesn’t have to pay massive fines to the federal government for not obeying the HHS mandate, which forces religious groups and companies to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs for their employees.

To date, there are currently 91 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.

The Supreme Court recently agreed to take a case from Christian-run business Hobby Lobby, which is suing the Obama administration over its mandate that it pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for its employees. But where do Americans stand on the issue of whether employers should be forced to comply with the mandate?

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows they apparently agree.

“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.

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The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.

Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”

Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.