Last week, a Pennsylvania federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s rules that would have enabled employers to stop providing contraception insurance coverage for "religious or moral" reasons citing that the “Commonwealth [of Pennsylvania] is likely to suffer serious and irreparable harm” if he doesn’t block it."
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took the Little Sisters of the Poor to court, suing them in order to take away the sisters’ religious exemption from the prior Health and Human Services rule. California’s attorney general has done the same. In early October, HHS issued a new rule that protects the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based nonprofit organizations from providing services in their healthcare plan that violate their faith, such as the week-after pill.
The Little Sisters have been dragged in and out of court for nearly four years. Just as the end was in sight, Pennsylvania and California sued to remove this exemption. Now, Pennsylvania successfully won a court order keeping the Little Sisters from joining the case to defend their rights. A similar hearing took place on Tuesday in Oakland, Calif.
This story has circulated, due to the lengthy court battles, so many times it seems commonplace now, but its basic tenets are truly so asinine only a Democrat would think this seems logical. Asking nuns, of all people, to provide birth control is like the FDA forcing Hebrew National to make nonkosher hot dogs — there are plenty of other brands that do this.
Ironically, much of the media fail to grasp this absurdity and portrays the story like this:
Breaking: A Pennsylvania federal judge just temporarily blocked the Trump administrations rules enabling employers to stop providing contraception insurance coverage for "religious or moral" reasons pic.twitter.com/Z3wDk43geG— Ema O'Connor (@o_ema) December 15, 2017
When it’s really like this:
Or: A Pennsylvania federal judge just ordered employers to continue funding contraception for employees, even when it forces an employer to violate the requirements of her or his own religion. https://t.co/JbOgqqJtDn— Adam White (@adamjwhitedc) December 15, 2017
Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, (a religious liberty, nonprofit legal organization, which is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor), said in a statement, “Today’s ruling is wrong on the law and we will be appealing it immediately. We are confident that the appeals court or the Supreme Court will overturn this ruling and ensure that the government can do the right thing and continue to protect religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
There’s a reason the Trump administration rolled back parts of the HHS mandate — because it was flawed in the first place. It should never have required Little Sisters of the Poor — an organization of celibate women whose sole purpose is to honor the Church and serve others — to offer birth control as there are myriads of other employers who offer contraception without violating their religious conscience. Not to mention, the Pennsylvania and California lawsuits, and specifically the Pennsylvania-based judge’s current ruling to block Trump’s rollbacks, challenges something that’s already been settled.
So not only is this entire debacle illogical, but it's a frivolous show of political grandstanding at the expense of an organization that helps the neediest among us. No one is violating the rule of law here, save for the two states and one activist judge forcing a bunch of nuns to violate their conscience by offering a product they don’t stand behind, simply because the states have bought into the liberal falsehood that the state knows best and he who holds the most power is he who forces its will most successfully onto someone else.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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