Washington, D.C. (The Becket Fund) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced July 10 that — despite losing repeatedly at the U.S. Supreme Court — it would continue trying to force religious nonprofits like the Little Sisters of the Poor to help distribute contraceptives, including the “week-after pill.”
The announcement comes after multiple losses in contraceptive mandate cases at the Supreme Court, including last year’s Hobby Lobby decision and Court decisions regarding the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College. In fact, the previous week the Supreme Court ordered the government not to enforce this rule against Catholic organizations from Pennsylvania, marking the government’s sixth loss in a row at the Supreme Court regarding the mandate. There are now four petitions before the Supreme Court asking the Court to finally resolve the issue by June 2016.
“The government keeps digging the hole deeper,” said Adèle Auxier Keim, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Just last week the Supreme Court ordered HHS not to enforce the exact rules they finalized today. But the government still won’t give up on its quest to force nuns and other religious employers to distribute contraceptives. Especially after the Supreme Court’s recent King v. Burwell decision allowed the government to expand its healthcare exchanges, there is no reason at all the government needs religious employers to help it distribute these products.”
The government proposed similar rules in August 2014, but many observers believed it might change position after repeated losses on the mandate issue at the Supreme Court. However, the government forged ahead and finalized rules requiring non-profit employers to help it distribute contraceptive drugs and devices.
“The government has already told thousands of businesses that they don’t need to comply with the HHS Mandate at all,” Keim said. “So why is it continuing to go out of its way to force religious objectors, from nuns to business owners, to do something it is more than capable of doing itself?”