The Little Sisters Win–Again–But . . .

Last week, in a 7-2 decision the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of the Little Sisters of the Poor to avoid paying for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees.

The Little Sisters in America are 300 women running 27 homes for indigent elderly.

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled just four years ago that the nuns would not have to pay a $70 million fine for refusing to obey the Obamacare mandates on birth control and abortion–even though corporate giants like Exxon and Visa and others are exempt from the regulations.

Despite the Supreme Court having already upheld their freedom of conscience, Josh Shapiro, Attorney General of Pennsylvania followed along after Xavier Becerra, California’s AG, sued to force the nuns to provide contraceptives– those preventing conception and those abortive in nature. These men sued in an attempt to get the court to say states can force the nuns to do what the federal government cannot force them to do.

The nuns have spent nearly a decade in court.

Life Site News reports that “[Justice Clarence] Thomas wrote in his majority opinion[,] ‘We hold that the [federal government’s] Departments had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.'”

But having the authority to exempt the nuns isn’t the same as having an obligation to exempt them. It leaves the question hanging like a door swinging in the wind with the change of administrations.

Lifesite points out that two justices made the argument for an obligation on the government’s part:

“In a concurring opinion, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch went a step further and argued that not only were the Departments allowed to exempt the Little Sisters, but the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) actually ‘compels an exemption for the Little Sisters and any other employer with a similar objection to what has been called the  accommodation to the contraceptive mandate.'” (emphasis mine)

That view is commendable (and constitutional) and shows why SCOTUS appointments are crucial. If the winds of a new administration blow in a different direction, we will see new appointments and the door will swing again in the direction of oppression over freedom of conscience.

“While ultimately voting with the majority, [Justice Elena] Kagan explained in a concurring opinion that while she believed the relevant departments did have ‘statutory authority to exempt certain employers from the mandate,’ she also believes the accommodation made for the Little Sisters was broad enough that it could still be invalidated under the federal Administrative Procedure Act. So while the ruling is a major victory the Little Sisters and other opponents of compulsory birth control coverage, Kagan’s opinion also provides ammo to a potential future challenge.”

Sadly, we can expect to see the sisters in court yet again.

And last week’s decision affects more than a small sect of nuns, their employees, and their homes’ residents. These cases mark, not a turning point, but another stepping stone on our nation’s pathway (perhaps a circular one) between freedom and religious suppression.

Abolitionist Wendell Phillips said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. . . . The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten,”

Gather fresh manna daily. Be vigilant.

And in this season of turmoil and uncertainty, be especially vigilant in prayer.

Photo Credit: supremecourt.gov

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Stacked Deck Against the Champions of Life

“This is a case of shooting the proverbial messenger who had the courage to document the business model of the nation’s number one abortion vendor. It was clear during the hearing that Planned Parenthood did harvest and sell infant body parts. What a miscarriage of justice to punish those who documented the disgusting practices.” Kristen Hawkins~

A San Francisco jury has found that undercover journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are liable for damages to Planned Parenthood. The two went undercover to show the world that PP was selling unborn children’s body parts for profit.

Daleiden and Merritt planned to base their defense on the Bill of Rights. But the presiding judge prohibited a first amendment defense.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Judge Orrick to back off from his insistence that the jury be instructed that the First Amendment … does not state any kind of defense to the charges in this case,” said Thomas Brejcha, founder of the Thomas More Society, in an update on the case last week.

But perhaps the judge wasn’t the unbiased authority our judicial system calls for. After the trial, Daleiden said Judge Orrick “is actually the founder of a Planned Parenthood of Northern California clinic in San Francisco. . . . 

“We tried to get him recused from this case several times a couple of years ago, and each time he or his peers in the federal judicial system looked the other way and kept him on, and Judge Orrick basically predetermined the outcome of this case from the very beginning of the trial.”

The Daleiden/Merritt case is about punishing those who would speak the truth about what Planned Parenthood’s henchmen and women did (and may still do) to turn a few extra bucks. It’s about silencing any others who may dare to speak truth about what happens behind the doors of PP.

For Planned Parenthood, it’s also about trying to reverse a public relations disaster–the truth.

And it’s about money.

Of course, Daleiden and Merritt’s attorneys plan an appeal.

In the meantime, the Little Sisters of the Poor and 30 other religious non-profit organizations await a ruling from the US Supreme Court regarding their exemption from Obamacare requirements that they provide contraception and abortion for those whom they employ.

That despite an HHS rule that exempts them from the Obamacare mandate.

Yet Obamacare excluded some corporations and government entities (the United States military, VISA, Chevron, and Pepsi, and Exxon). Will those entities provide those services out of their own surpluses–or will the employees pay them out of pocket?

This fight is clearly not about universal coverage.

Maybe these fights over the filming of truth and the sanctity of life are not just about money.

Maybe they’re not just about abortion. Maybe they’re also about power.

J.D. Mullane says it’s not the first time Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro (one of only two AG’s pursuing the Little Sisters) has gone after a “little guy.”

” The AG seems to like picking on little guys like the Little Sisters. Recall how he used the full force of the state to go after a mom-and-pop lawnmower repair biz in Lower Southampton in May, alerting the media with a full-blown press conference with state police, state consumer protection officials, and ‘victims’ who, frankly, should have sought relief at a small claims hearing in district court.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor run nursing homes for abandoned elderly in poverty. They care for those with no one else to care for them at the end of their lives. At the same time, they stand up for the smallest humans at the beginning of life.

In these court cases, religious and journalistic freedom sit in the crosshairs of a weapon aimed at the champions of life–to eradicate their voices and silent witness–to take away their freedom to speak and our freedom to know.

The stakes are high. Get into the game. It’s the only way to overcome a stacked deck.

Photo Credit: Jack Hamilton, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Then Pennsylvania Came for the Nuns

Martin Niemoller’s famous quote listing the Nazi victims comes to mind today.

This week the Little Sisters of the Poor are back in court–before the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)–defending their right to follow their religious convictions against abortion and contraception.

This might sound like a rerun of the evening news, but it’s not.

It was just in 2016 that the Little Sisters successfully defended themselves against an Obamacare mandate requiring them to provide abortions, abortifacients (contraception that works after conception–i.e. medication or device abortion), and contraception as part of their employee medical insurance coverage.

The sisters faced the option of shutting down all their facilities or paying millions in fines.

Then they won.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro–presumed by many to be the next governor–wouldn’t let the issue die–despite a Health and Human Services (HHS) rule (at the federal level) that says otherwise. (California’s AG is also pursuing the case.)

A news release from Becket, defending the nuns, explains:

“HHS issued a new rule that protects religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor from providing services like the week-after pill in their healthcare plans in violation of their faith. This meant their four-year legal ordeal was close to an end. But shortly after, the state of Pennsylvania sued to take away the Little Sisters’ religious exemption.”

According to Becket, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe Shapiro has it in for the sisters:

“Pennsylvania admits that it already has and already uses many government programs to provide contraceptives to women who need them.  Pennsylvania never challenged the Obama Administration for creating much larger exceptions for secular corporations—exceptions that covered tens of millions more people than the religious exemption.  Pennsylvania does not even have its own contraceptive mandate at all.”

We of the Keystone Commonwealth should be asking how many of our tax dollars Shapiro has wasted on his persecution of the sisters.

We should realize that electing Shapiro as governor will open the door for more Kermit Gosnells. And we should consider whether that door has already opened.

Anyone concerned about freedom of religion in America should be watching closely for SCOTUS’s ruling on this case.

Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Newscom

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”