The Little Sisters of the Poor, once again, have become the center of a religious liberty court case, as California and Pennsylvania try and attempt to force them to cover for abortifacients, by knocking over a federal exemption from the Trump administration.
The Catholic nuns had previously battled the Obama administration all the way to the Supreme Court to exercise their own conscience rights against the Obamacare’s birth control mandate. The Department of Health and Human Services has recently announced a new rule in October this year that would grant a conscience exemption to the nuns, whose mission focuses on assisting the elderly poor.
The Californian Attorney General – Xavier Becerra and Pennsylvania Attorney General – Josh Shapiro have each filed their legal challenges to force these nuns, who are called “The Little Sisters of the Poor” and other religious organizations that have issues with abortifacients when it comes to financing them for their employee healthcare plans.
The lead attorney for the nuns, Mark Rienzi of the legal nonprofit Becket Fund, had recently announced that the nuns have intended to intervene in those “divisive and unnecessary” suits. He also accused the Democratic attorneys general of attempting to ingratiate themselves with their political allies at the taxpayer’s expense.
“Josh Shapiro and Xavier Becerra think attacking nuns is a way to score political points. These men may think their campaign donors want them to sue nuns, but our guess is most taxpayers disagree,” Rienzi had said in a statement. “No one needs nuns in order to get contraceptives, and no one needs these guys reigniting the last administration’s divisive and unnecessary culture war.”
Becerra and Shapiro, both have received substantial political support from the abortion industry.
Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania was one of Shapiro’s largest campaign donors in his 2016 campaign, as it shelled out nearly $20,000 in the race, as per the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Shapiro’s campaign website features a stand with Planned Parenthood page as well. It reads that he would make abortion rights his topmost priority. He announced at a press conference held in a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic that his lawsuit challenges the Trump administration.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office had declined to comment on the litigation and Shapiro’s relationship with Planned Parenthood and instead went on to refer to an October 11 release.
“The Trump Administration broke the law and undermined the health and economic independence of American women by issuing these rules, which allow any company to deny insurance coverage of contraception,” Shapiro had said in a statement that was posted to the attorney general’s website, as well as that of Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania.
Becerra had also received thousands of dollars from Planned Parenthood and NARAL, during his tenure as a U.S. congressional representative. He has aggressively policed the pro-life activists in office, filing 15 charges against the Center for Medical Progress investigators over their undercover footage, detailing Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting operations.
His office is already scheduled to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court as they defend a controversial state law that actually forces pro-life clinics and charities to provide more references to abortion in their facilities.
“Women in consultation with doctors should be in control of their reproductive decisions. Period,” Becerra had said in a statement, “The Trump administration has handed those decisions to employers. The California Department of Justice will fight to protect every woman’s right to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.”
He also went on and told the reporters that he saw this 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 had said in an October conference call.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a policy advisor to The Catholic Association, had said “Once again, the Little Sisters of the Poor are forced to divert their attention from the care of the poor and elderly to defend themselves from the relentless bullying of those who want nuns to distribute contraceptives and abortifacients. These attempts seem to be based on naked ambition and anti-Catholicism. We are confident that the Little Sisters will ultimately obtain the legal protection they deserve.”