The US Supreme Court is upholding religious exemptions for pro-life employers who don’t want to be forced to provide contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs, to their employees.
In an overwhelming 7-2 ruling on Wednesday morning, the court sided with the Trump administration which had taken steps to allow employers with religious convictions to be exempt from the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.”
The case revolved around a group of nuns called Little Sisters of the Poor that was fighting back against the contraception mandate, saying it violated their religious beliefs. The nuns had fought the case and won before, but then the state of Pennsylvania tried again to force them to violate their pro-life beliefs.
Thomas continued in his ruling, “For over 150 years, the Little Sisters have engaged in faithful service and sacrifice, motivated by a religious calling to surrender all for the sake of their brother… But for the past seven years, they—like many other religious objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today’s decision—have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Each of the Little Sisters of the Poor has taken a vow to care for the elderly poor, which they do in facilities across the country. One of their Mother Superiors, Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, said, “We could not comply with the mandate. To do so would undermine our most important belief, that all life is valuable. We cannot hold the hands of the elderly dying while at the same time facilitating the ending of unborn life.”
“America deserves better than petty governments harassing 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 Becket, which fought the legal battle for the nuns.
“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,” Rienzi said.