Sister Loraine Maguire: Little Sisters of the Poor return to Supreme Court to oppose contraceptive mandate

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The Little Sisters of the Poor will be back in a hearing before the Supreme Court Wednesday, and Lord have mercy.

We Little Sisters are called to radically love the elderly poor, caring for them in their frailty as we would Christ Himself. It is with this zeal that we will return to the Supreme Court – after seven years of unwanted litigation – to ask the court to protect our ministry and end our legal battle once and for all.

As Catholics, we believe in the inherent dignity of every life from the moment of conception to natural death. That’s why we spend every day accompanying some of the most vulnerable members of our society – holding their hands through the final years, days and moments on this Earth.

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Almost a decade ago, our ministry was threatened by the contraceptive mandate – a federal government regulation under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) that ordered us to provide abortion-inducing drugs in our health plans or face tens of millions of dollars in fines. This would be a death sentence for our ministry.

We cannot hold the hands of the dying elderly while at the same time facilitating the ending of pre-born life. Our faith will not allow it.

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Since we knew we could not comply with the mandate, we challenged it in court with the help of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Our case has seen two unanimous wins at the Supreme Court, a government-issued religious exemption, more lawsuits challenging that exemption – and through it all, unceasing prayer.

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On Wednesday we will return to the Supreme Court as one of the ten historic cases chosen for the first telephonic arguments the court has ever held. Lawyers until now have appeared in person before the high court for oral arguments, but the court is hearing cases by phone due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will livestream the arguments for the first time.

The federal government and our brilliant attorneys will ask the Supreme Court justices to end this needless battle and protect our ministry from the contraceptive mandate once and for all.

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The government has already admitted that it has other ways to provide access to contraceptives without forcing religious sisters to participate. Not to mention that the states that have sued us to take away our hard-won victory haven’t taken issue with the broad exemptions to the contraceptive mandate for secular companies like Pepsi, Exxon, Visa and agencies of the government itself, like the U.S. military.

This long, seemingly unending battle has hung over our ministry like a storm cloud – an unnecessarily divisive fight that seems even more frivolous as of late, when the lives of our elderly residents are threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

We are so grateful to the supporters who have lightened our load thus far and we hope this will be the final leg of this journey.

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We Little Sisters have never before been in the public eye. We live quiet lives of service to the elderly poor.

I hope that a positive decision in our case will be my final sign-off from years of public attention as a result of this lawsuit. My life belongs to God and the elderly poor, and to spend the rest of my days thinking of nothing other than their well-being is my sincere wish and my fervent prayer.