Little Sisters of the Poor presses contraceptive mandate case, says government's latest solution isn't good enough

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The Little Sisters of the Poor is not satisfied with the federal government's recent regulations and will continue its challenge against the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, the Catholic long-term care provider stated in a legal brief filed Monday.

The order of nuns is one of several organizations to claim moral objections and challenge the ACA provision that all health plans must cover contraception for women. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of another such organization, the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores. The June ruling did not resolve all the cases involving nonprofits, such as the Little Sisters, but it did prompt the government to offer a new compromise.

Under the regulation introduced Aug. 22, the nonprofits could opt out of providing contraceptive coverage by writing a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then arrange for the coverage. Previously, the opt-out process involved directly notifying the health insurer, which then would utilize an alternate system for providing the coverage. The Little Sisters argue that both these options are tantamount to giving permission for the contraception to be provided.

“Merely offering the Little Sisters a different way to violate their religion does not ease their conscience,” stated Adele Keim, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty attorney representing the organization. “Adding another layer of paperwork is a solution that only a bureaucrat could love. The federal government has many ways to deliver contraceptives. There's no reason it should force nuns to do that for them; the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act offers two very good reasons why it shouldn't.”

The Becket Fund also represented Hobby Lobby in its case.

Click here to access the Little Sisters' brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.