A Central Deception in the Obama Administration’s Case Against the Little Sisters of the Poor


A key theme of the Obama administration’s 37-page response to the Little Sisters of the Poor’s request for an injunction against the HHS abortion-pill Mandate, boils down to this: It’s just a form. The case isn’t about liberty; it’s about paperwork.

Here’s their argument in a nutshell: The law merely requires the Little Sisters of the Poor to certify their religious objection to the third-party administrator of their self-insurance plan. Ordinarily, this certification would then require the third-party administrator to provide “free” abortifacients to the Little Sisters’ employees, but since the third-party administrator is exempt from this requirement (because they’re administering a “church plan”) and says it won’t provide the abortion pills, then this case is about nothing at all — nothing but a requirement that the Little Sisters fill out a piece of paper to get their government benefit.

Here’s the government’s brief:

Applicants cannot establish that it is indisputably clear that such a RFRA claim would succeed. Indeed, that reading of RFRA, if accepted, would seemingly invalidate any scheme in which an individual or entity with religious objections is required to complete a certification of entitlement to an opt-out in order to secure the opt-out. That cannot be correct.

But here’s the problem: The certification is not an “opt out,” it’s a document that actually empowers a third party to provide free abortion pills. In that way, it’s more like a voucher than an opt-out. Imagine if the government said to a religious employer, “We’re not going to require you to pay for abortions, but we will require you to provide employees with a document that entitles them to a free abortion at the Planned Parenthood clinic down the street.” Would anyone think for a moment that respected religious liberty? Yet that’s the essence of the government “accommodation” here.

The Little Sisters object to providing an abortion/contraception voucher — a voucher that could be redeemed for free abortifacients at the discretion of a third-party administrator.

So, no, this is not an argument about a form. After all, religious entities (including the Little Sisters of the Poor) fill out forms without objection all the time. It’s about power — whether the Obama administration can force a Catholic charity to empower a third-party to provide free medical services that indisputably and gravely violate the deeply-held religious principles of nuns who are doing good works for the “least of these.”

Read more on the Patheos Faith and Family Channel and follow David on Twitter.

Are Christians in the Midst of a 'Social Secession?'
Me on the 700 Club -- Talking About Religious Liberty in the Military
When Big Government Doesn’t Let Us Help Ourselves
The Absurd Reason Why an Idaho City Claims Pastors Must Perform Same-Sex Marriage Ceremonies

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X