A Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, will appear before a federal appeals court today to tell it to protect their religious liberties and prevent the Obama administration from making them comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate.
The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.
Without relief, the Little Sisters face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily protected the Little Sisters from the mandate. The Little Sisters are now before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to extend that protection, and their attorneys will present oral arguments today.
“We are thrilled the Supreme Court temporarily protected the Little Sisters from having to violate their conscience or pay crippling IRS fines. We are hopeful the Tenth Circuit will give them more lasting protection,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for Little Sisters of the Poor. “The federal government is a massive entity that has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need to force the Little Sisters to participate.”
The injunction from the Supreme Court provided the Little Sisters short-term protection from being forced to sign and deliver the controversial government forms authorizing, ordering, and incentivizing their health benefits administrator to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and drugs and devices that may cause early abortions. Instead, the Little Sisters simply had to inform HHS of their religious identity and objections.
Protection has been given to 18 of the 19 similar cases.
“Virtually every other party who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” said Rienzi.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.
The Little Sisters are joined in the lawsuit by their religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, and hundreds of similarly-situated Catholic ministries that obtain their health benefits from the same providers. The Plaintiffs are also represented by Locke Lord, a national law firm, and by Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
A December 2013 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Americans disagree with forcing companies like Hobby Lobby to obey the mandate.
“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.
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.