Aug 18, 2015
Should Catholic nuns be forced to include contraceptives in their health insurance plans? The government thinks so and has spent the better part of the past two years trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to do just that.
For over 175 years, the Little Sisters, an international congregation of Roman Catholic religious women, has served the nation's elderly poor with love and dignity. The order operates group nursing homes dedicated to the physical, emotional, and spiritual care of the elderly poor in 18 U.S. cities, including Somerville, Massachusetts.
Although the nuns don't use birth control and have sincere religious objections to providing birth control for their employees, for the past two years the government has attempted to force the nuns to provide the objectionable contraceptives to their employees or else face millions of dollars in fines. This Hobson's choice - between providing, and thus endorsing, methods of birth control to which they object to on religious grounds, or paying millions in fines - requires the Little Sisters to choose between their faith and their ministry. That's why last month, with the help of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Little Sisters for the second time asked the United States Supreme Court for protection from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that violate their religious freedom.
The thought that the federal government would even consider forcing an order of Catholic nuns to provide birth control would be comical, if it weren't so wildly inappropriate. Although the government has granted an exemption from the contraception mandate to the Catholic Bishops, remarkably, Administration officials assert that the Little Sisters are not religious enough to receive the same exemption. And yet, the government has completely exempted thousands of businesses employing millions of Americans, including big businesses like Exxon and Pepsi Bottling.