Supreme Court Will Hear Case to Stop Obama From Forcing Little Sisters to Obey HHS Mandate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 6, 2015   |   3:48PM   |   Washington, DC

In a victory for the pro-life fight against the HHS mandate, the Supreme Court has agreed to take the case of a Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, which has been fighting not to be forced to 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 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.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will take up all seven of the cases challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate’s so-called “accommodation” that forces religious non-profit employers to facilitate insurance coverage for life-ending drugs and devices against their beliefs.

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. Then, the full appeals court ruled in its favor.

Now, the Supreme Court indicated it will hear their legal challenge. It will take up these seven cases representing numerous schools, dioceses, and charitable organizations.

Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, told 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.’”

Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest told LifeNews she is “optimistic that the Court will uphold Americans’ fundamental freedom of conscience” in its review of legal challenges to the mandate.

Yoest said she “looks forward to a discussion of the constitutional issues raised by a law that forces people to violate their First Amendment rights of conscience to satisfy the abortion-lobby’s additions to the healthcare law.

She said that, while claiming to “accommodate” religious employers, a regulation issued by HHS in August 2014 forces those with religious beliefs opposed to facilitating and paying for life-ending drugs and devices to hand over to the federal government the name and contact information “for any of the plan’s third party administrators and health insurance issuers.” The HHS regulation makes clear that the government will use that information to force the religious employer’s insurance carrier to include the objected-to items and services in the policies purchased by the religious employer.

Yoest observed, “As the Court already held in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases, it is unlawful for the Obama Administration to threaten to impose crippling fines on those who object to participating in a purely ideological agenda that embraces life-ending drugs and devices. Those cases rightly found that Green and Hahn family businesses could not be punished for being pro-life. It is basic commonsense that the law likewise protects nuns, priests, and religious schools from similar coercion. AUL is confident that, once again, religious liberty and the freedom of conscience—principles that are protected by federal law and the Constitution—will prevail against the pro-abortion ideologues of the Obama Administration.”



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  “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.