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Do the Little Sisters of the Poor Have a Case Against Obamacare?

Do the Little Sisters of the Poor Have a Case Against Obamacare?

On New Year's Eve, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay that temporarily blocked the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act from applying to religious-affiliated organizations. A group of nuns from Colorado called the Little Sisters of the Poor had asked for the delay because they object to the law's contraception requirements.

"We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the nuns. "The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people – it doesn't need to force nuns to participate."

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, religious-affiliated organizations do not have to provide contraception to their employees, but they do need to sign a form affirming their objection, which then forces the insurer or an outside health plan administrator to provide separate birth control coverage. The Justice Department responded to Sotomayor's stay by saying that this opt-out provision is sufficient enough protection for religious organizations.

"With the stroke of their own pen, applicants can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this Court – an exemption from the requirements of the contraceptive-coverage provision," the U.S. Solicitor General wrote in a motion filed last Friday. The nuns contend that even signing a form stating their objection would result in employees obtaining contraceptive coverage, indirectly making the nuns responsible for such coverage.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration believes that the Supreme Court will eventually uphold the contraception mandate in its current form. "We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women's health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," he said. It is unclear when the court will rule on whether the stay will remain in place. The stay does not apply to for-profit businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, that also object to the health care law's contraception requirement.

So do the Little Sisters of the Poor have a case against Obamacare? Here is the Debate Club's take:


The Arguments

#1
393 Pts
Little Sisters of the Poor Deserve an Obamacare Exception

Yes – Little Sisters of the Poor Deserve an Obamacare Exception

Penny Nance President and CEO of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

#2
183 Pts
Obamacare Forces Sisters Into a Terrible Choice

Yes – Obamacare Forces Sisters Into a Terrible Choice

Edward Mechmann Director of Public Policy for the Archdiocese of New York

#3
161 Pts
Little Sisters of the Poor Are Letting Conscience Guide Them on Obamacare

Yes – Little Sisters of the Poor Are Letting Conscience Guide Them on Obamacare

Mary Ann Walsh Sister of Mercy of the Americas and Director of Media Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

#4
-152 Pts
The Birth Control Mandate Harms Nobody's Religious Freedom

No – The Birth Control Mandate Harms Nobody's Religious Freedom

Dana Singiser Vice President of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

#5
-156 Pts
Little Sisters of the Poor Try to Turn Obamacare Upside Down

No – Little Sisters of the Poor Try to Turn Obamacare Upside Down

Leslie Griffin Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas


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