Religion

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Nuns Who Sued Obamacare's Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

| by Nathaly Pesantez

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Denver, Colorado-based non-profit organization, has not been infringed of its religious freedom by the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate.

The Appeals Court decided on Tuesday that employees must have contraceptive coverage, defeating the plaintiffs' goals of evading and doing away with the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.

Organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor, according to the 10th Circuit, already have accommodations in place, as federal law states that religious groups are exempt from covering contraceptives.

But the plaintiffs assert that the two-page form that religious organization fill out when objecting to providing employees with contraceptives is hardly an exemption, for the employees will still be given contraceptive coverage through a third party

But the 10th Circuit disagreed. "Plaintiffs have not shown any likelihood that their sending in the Form or the notification would convey a message of support for contraception," according to the Court opinion.

"Although we recognize and respect the sincerity of plaintiffs' beliefs and arguments, we conclude the accommodation scheme…does not substantially burden their religious exercise," the judge panel wrote.

Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial Sister of the Little Sisters of the Poor, expressed the group's reasons for standing up against the contraceptive mandate.

"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," Maguire said, according to the Denver Post.

The Affordable Care Act was also challenged by Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America University, among others, according to the court document. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the group that backed the lawsuit on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious schools, said that the decision of the 10th Circuit would be appealed to the Supreme Court, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There is no reason the government cannot run its programs without hijacking the Little Sisters and their health plan," Mark Rienzi, an attorney with the Becket Fund, said.

Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,The Denver Post, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell

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