The following comes from an August 21 Catholic News Agency article:
The Little Sisters of the Poor have received temporary protection from the federal contraception mandate until the Supreme Court decides whether or not it will hear their case.
On August 21, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Little Sisters will not be subject the mandate’s requirements or the fines associated with resisting it. The court order lasts until the Supreme Court announces whether it will take up the sisters’ appeal. If the Court agrees to hear the case, the protection from the mandate will last until it issues a final ruling.
Employers who fail to comply with the federal contraception mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.
Met with a wave of protest, the contraception mandate has undergone a number of revisions. However, the sisters say that it still requires them to violate their beliefs.
Because the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a particular house of worship, they do not qualify for the religious exemption to the mandate. The federal government has argued that it has sufficiently provided for the religious freedom of the Little Sisters and other religious organizations through an “accommodation” under which the faith-based employers can pass the burden of providing the objectionable coverage to insurers, who must then offer it directly to employees without cost.
The government says that providing contraception coverage is ultimately free for insurance companies, because birth control results in better health for women and lower pregnancy rates, resulting in lower overall costs for insurers.
Critics, however, reject this claim, arguing that the costs of the coverage will ultimately be handed on to the employer in some way. Several religious organizations have also said that they still object to signing a form that passes the burden of providing the objectionable content to another party.
“The federal government doesn’t need the Little Sisters or any other ministry to help it distribute abortion-inducing drugs and other contraceptives,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters.
“Yet it not only insists on forcing them to participate in the delivery, it argues that their beliefs against participating are wrong and that government officials and judges can tell the Little Sisters what Catholic theology really requires,” he continued. “That’s wrong, and it’s dangerous.”