States Sue to Overturn New Trump Rule and Force Little Sisters of the Poor to Fund Abortion Drugs

National   Steven Ertelt   Nov 21, 2017   |   1:24PM    Washington, DC

The Trump Administration issued new rules protecting Little Sisters of the Poor from having to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their employee health care plans. Now, two states have filed suit to force the organization of Catholic nuns to pay for abortion drugs.

As LifeNews reported, President Donald Trump signed a religious liberty executive order that would protect Christian organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor from being forced to pay for abortions.

The order indicates the Trump administration will “provide regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate, a position supported by the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby.”

However, pro-abortion attorneys general in two states don’t want the Catholic nuns to enjoy that protection. The Little Sisters of the Poor are heading back to court to defend themselves against lawsuits by the states of California and Pennsylvania to take away the Little Sisters’ religious exemption from the new Health and Human Services rule.

The abortion activists are suing to stop the Trump order that protects religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic nuns who dedicate their lives to caring for the elderly poor, from providing services like the week-after pill in their healthcare plans in violation of their faith. If it stands, the new rule should mean that their lawsuit against the federal government will soon end.  

However, shortly after the new mandate was issued, the states of California and Pennsylvania sued to take away the religious exemption the Little Sisters just won. The Little Sisters of the Poor, represented by attorneys with Becket, are asking the court to ensure that they can continue their vital ministry of caring for the elderly poor without violating their faith. Becket will file to intervene on the Sister’s behalf later today. 

Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor, told LifeNews: “Sadly Josh Shapiro and Xavier Becerra think attacking nuns is a way to score political points. These men may think their campaign donors want them to sue nuns, but our guess is most taxpayers disagree. No one needs nuns in order to get contraceptives, and no one needs these guys reigniting the last administration’s divisive and unnecessary culture war.”

The Trump order limits a rule created under the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that required that employers, including non-church religious organizations, must cover all forms of contraception, from birth control pills to abortion drugs and devices at no cost to the employees.

Leading pro-life groups were delighted by the news.

Click here to sign up for pro-life news alerts from LifeNews.com

“Today President Trump delivered a huge victory for conscience rights and religious liberty in America,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “No longer will Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. Not only that, moral objectors such as the Susan B. Anthony List will also no longer have to pay for life-ending drugs that are antithetical to their mission and for which we have argued there is certainly no ‘compelling state interest.’”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor said new rule that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued Friday that expands protections in the Obama-era abortion-pill mandate for organizations with pro-life religious or moral convictions. That mandate had forced many employers, regardless of those beliefs, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements weren’t met:

“The beliefs that inspire Christian colleges and universities and the Little Sisters of the Poor to serve their communities should be protected,” said Baylor. “During his campaign, President Trump promised that protecting religious liberty would be a top priority and people of faith would not be bullied on his watch. We are pleased that this rule is a major step forward in keeping that promise and restoring back to people of faith their constitutionally protected freedom. We are also pleased the rule protects the conscience convictions of organizations like March for Life, an organization that bases its pro-life beliefs on science and philosophy, and hosts the largest pro-life gathering in the world every year in Washington, D.C.”

“Although organizations that filed civil rights lawsuits will still need final relief from the courts, it is encouraging to see the Trump Administration affirm the principle that all Americans should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith and conscience without threat of government punishment. Access to contraception and other drugs and devices will continue to be as widely and readily available as it always has been for those who want these items. We commend the president for his commitment to freedom and restoring the choice of religious and pro-life employers and their female employees to work at organizations consistent with their convictions. We expect that the Department of Justice will work with us to quickly resolve these cases in a manner that fully and permanently protects the freedom of conscience of our clients.”

The controversial mandate has twice made it to the Supreme Court where the nation’s highest court sided with both Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor and their attempts to not be forced to pay for abortion causing drugs in violation of their consciences.

The court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other similar businesses were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which states that an individual’s religious expression shouldn’t be “substantially burdened” by a law unless there is a “compelling government interest.”

In the Hobby Lobby ruling, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the ACA’s contraception rule “would put these merchants to a difficult choice: either give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits, available to their competitors, of operating as corporations.”