Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized a contraception mandate that ignores the fact groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor are religious organizations, according to a lawsuit filed to protect them against fines for refusing to comply with an Obamacare mandate.
"We cannot violate our vows by participating in the government's program to provide access to abortion-inducing drugs,” Sister Loraine Marie said of a class-action lawsuit filed against the mandate on behalf of multiple religious organizations that provide health benefits.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
The choice of jurisdiction is critical: The Colorado district court falls under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and thus is governed by that court's precedent in most cases.
A 10th Circuit panel ruled earlier this year that the owners of Hobby Lobby did not have to comply with the HHS mandate (that lawsuit was also filed by the Becket Fund). President Obama's attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 10th Circuit's ruling.
“The Sisters should obviously be exempted as ‘religious employers,’ but the government has refused to expand its definition,” Becket Fund senior counsel Mark Rienzi said.
“These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work. The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it always has -- and not to pay the IRS,” he said.