Appeals Court Says Obama Can’t Force Little Sisters of the Poor to Obey HHS Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Aug 21, 2015   |   4:54PM    Washington, DC

In a victory for the pro-life fight against the HHS mandate, a federal appeals court issued a ruling today saying a Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, does not have to comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate while its lawsuit against the mandate continues. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Without relief, the Little Sisters would 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 then went before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to extend that protection, but a panel of the appeals court ruled against them. Today, the full appeals court ruled in its favor.

The Tenth Circuit issued an order temporarily safeguarding the Little Sisters of the Poor and other ministries from being forced to violate their faith. The court’s order means that the protection that the Supreme Court granted the Little Sisters last year will remain in place until the Supreme Court rules on their case.

Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, told LifeNews.com he’s delighted by the decision.

He said: “The federal government doesn’t need the Little Sisters or any other ministry to help it distribute abortion-inducing drugs and other contraceptives. Yet it not only insists on forcing them to participate in the delivery, it argues that their beliefs against participating are wrong and that government officials and judges can tell the Little Sisters what Catholic theology really requires. That’s wrong, and it’s dangerous — especially when those same government officials have disrespectfully compared the Sisters’ beliefs to ‘fighting an invisible dragon’ that can be vanquished with the ‘stroke of the [Sisters’] own pen.'”

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The Little Sisters of the Poor, along with Reaching Souls International and several other ministries, have asked the Supreme Court to take their case and give them long-term relief from the government’s mandate. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that petition, along with several others, this fall.

Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor responded to the appeals court ruling in an email to LifeNews.com:  “As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith. And we should not have to make that choice, because it violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity. All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

Last 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.

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.

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