New Website Explains Little Sisters of the Poor’s Side of SCOTUS Case

By Lauretta Brown | February 17, 2016 | 12:43pm EST
Little Sisters of the Poor (AP Photo)

( – The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Supreme Court Case Zubik v. Burwell, launched a new website Tuesday with comics, infographics, and a detailed explanation of the order’s objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in their health care plans.

The Supreme Court case Zubik v. Burwell will decide whether the government can force the Little Sisters and other Christian organizations to go against their religious beliefs and cooperate with a federal mandate, issued under Obamacare, which requires almost all health care plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as sterilizations and contraceptives.

The website addressed the objection that since the government has offered to reimburse the costs of the contraceptive services it wants the Little Sisters to provide, they should have no moral objection to offering them.  

“The Little Sisters are saying this is not about money, but conscience, and whether they should be forced to change their healthcare plan to offer services they have a moral objection to when those services could be provided more effectively through the government’s healthcare exchange,” it explained.

The website also pointed out that “1 in 3 Americans do not have a plan that is subject to the mandate that HHS is fighting so hard to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to follow.

Exxon, Chevron and Pepsi as well as other large corporations are exempt from the mandate.”

“The government is not even requiring our own US military to provide these services through their family insurance,” the website added.

The website proposes an “easy solution” that “protects the Little Sisters’ religious freedom and the right of the government to offer these services to women who want them.”

“Rather than trying to force religious plans to offer these services,” the website argues, “the better solution is for the government to provide these services through the ACA healthcare exchange to any employees who want them but can’t get them through employer plans.”

“Giving all women access to contraception through the healthcare exchange is a simpler and fairer way for the government to provide these services to more women while protecting the religious freedom of the Little Sisters, who never wanted this fight and just want to get back to caring for the elderly in need,” the website points out.

The website also provides some back story on the Little Sisters of the Poor’s founding by St. Jeanne Jugan in France as well as an infographic showing a typical day in the life of a little sister.

Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States, told in January, “It’s really a matter of religious liberty for us.”

“Catholic teaching is very clear on contraception, abortion,” she explained, “so we’re being mandated to facilitate the provision of those services to our employees, and even though the government came up with what they call the accommodation, it’s not just--if we were to sign that, it’s not just a declaration that we won’t cooperate. It’s actually allowing them to take over our health plan and insert those services into it, so that’s just something that we can’t accept.

“The reason we’ve taken it so far is that the fines being imposed on us would represent $70 million dollars across our homes in the United States, so that’s an impossible amount for us,” Veit continued. “If it was some small amount, maybe we would say okay, we’ll pay the fine and stick to our beliefs, but that kind of money is just impossible, so we really have no choice but to see it through to the end.”

The Little Sisters rely increasingly on community donations to run their homes for the elderly. They have seen many outpourings of support, including a visit from Pope Francis to their Washington home in September and an amicus curiae brief filed by 207 members of Congress on their behalf to the Supreme Court.

Some are speculating that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death over the weekend will negatively affect the outcome of the Little Sisters’ case. An appeals court ruled against the sisters and that decision would be upheld in the event of a tie vote from the Supreme Court.  

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