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Supreme Court rules in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor

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The Little Sisters of the Poor claimed victory at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday after the Court upheld 7-2 the Trump administration’s contraceptive exemption.

“We hope today’s victory at the Supreme Court will finally allow the Little Sisters to carry out their mission to love and serve the elderly poor without having to violate their conscience,” said SBA List President Majorie Dannenfelser. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2017 had carved out a religious exemption to the infamous birth-control mandate under the Affordable Care Act, allowing some employers to opt out of providing birth control and abortifacient-causing drugs as part of their health care plans if it violated their religious convictions. Lower courts blocked those changes after states led by Pennsylvania and California sued, threatening organizations and ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide the drugs or face enormous fees.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority decision that the Trump administration was within its rights under the Affordable Care Act to make the religious exemptions and followed appropriate procedures in doing so, according to the Associated Press.

“The government does not need the Sisters to provide women with dangerous drugs that lead to the destruction of innocent human life,” said Charlotte Lozier Institute President Chuck Donovan. “It is a relief that the Sisters will no longer have to divert precious time and resources to these incessant court battles, and we are united with them in celebrating this victory.”

The Little Sisters first sued the government in 2013 in response to President Obama’s 2011 birth-control mandate, requiring them to provide cost-free birth control. In 2016, the Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower courts, after which the Trump administration crafted their religious exemption.

“We are glad that the Constitution protects the Little Sisters and others willing to stand up for their beliefs in the face of intense, long standing opposition,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “These brave women have endured nine years of legal persecution for their religious beliefs, and we sincerely hope the Supreme Court’s decision today is the end of this unjust saga. Enough is enough.”

After 150 years of service to the poor and elderly and almost a decade of battle with the federal government, the Little Sisters of the Poor have affectionately become known in pro-life circles as “the world’s most tenacious nuns.” 

“The Court did the right thing by protecting the Little Sisters from an unnecessary mandate that would have gutted their ministry,” said Mark Rienzi, president of The Becket Fund. “Governments don’t need nuns to distribute contraceptives. But they do need religious groups to care for the elderly, heal the sick and feed the hungry. These governments all have real work they ought to be doing rather than dividing people with old and unnecessary culture wars.”

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America warns that this may not be the end of the nun’s battle. “The Court says today that the Trump Administration has the authority under the Affordable Care Act to promulgate this religious liberty exception, leaving the door open for another more hostile administration to undo it,” she said. “Today, CWA supporters celebrate this decision. Tomorrow, we are back at work to protect our freedoms.”

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Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.