NRL News

Ca. and Pa. attorneys general sue to take away Little Sisters of the Poor’s religious exemption

by | Nov 21, 2017

Seek to force them to provide health insurance coverage for ‘morally unacceptable’ products and procedures

By Dave Andrusko

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Last month NRL News Today reported that the Department of Justice had reached a settlement so “that plaintiffs would not be forced to provide health insurance coverage for ‘morally unacceptable’ products and procedures.”

That was a reference to the infamous Obama mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under a provision of ObamaCare that required employers — even those with deeply held religious objections — to provide health coverage for drugs and procedures to which they had moral or religious objections.

Among those who had joined a lawsuit of more than a dozen religious nonprofits including charities or universities were the Little Sisters of the Poor.

That nod to their religious freedom and rights of conscience was too much for the attorneys general of California, Xavier Becerra, and Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro. According to the Becket Fund, the duo has sued the Catholic charity to force them to fund coverage in their healthcare plans.

The Little Sisters of the Poor is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the two states.

“[N]o one needs these guys reigniting the last administration’s divisive and unnecessary culture war,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket, the law firm that is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor.

As Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon explained in his story today, “Becerra and Shapiro have both received substantial political support from the abortion industry.”

Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania was one of Shapiro’s largest campaign donors in his 2016 campaign, shelling out nearly $20,000 in the race, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Shapiro’s campaign website features a Stand with Planned Parenthood page and said he would make abortion rights a top priority. He announced his lawsuit challenging the Trump administration at a press conference held in a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic.

McMorris placed Becerra’s actions in a larger context.

His office is already scheduled to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend a controversial state law that forces pro-life clinics and charities to provide references to abortion in their facilities. Becerra’s office did not respond to request for comment. He told reporters that he saw the fight against the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities as essential to the “fundamental rights” of women.

“We’re prepared in California to take all action, including legal action, to defend a woman’s rights against this unacceptable attack,” he said in an October conference call.

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Categories: ObamaCare