- Nov 26, 2020
The Little Sisters of the Poor, who have always been known for their care for the poor elderly, have been in the spotlight for the past six years with their objection to the federal government’s requirement that they provide insurance coverage of contraceptives for their employees. Days after the rule was issued, Pennsylvania and California filed complaints against the federal government over the exemption. Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia joined California’s lawsuit to become the first plaintiff group to file a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the new exemption rule from going into effect.
During the Monday afternoon session for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall assembly, the U.S. bishops committed to issuing a “presidential statement” on immigration. President of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, did not set a deadline for its release. The decision is a marked difference from 2013 when the bishops issued a unanimous “special message” decrying the threats against religious freedom posed by the HHS mandate at the conclusion of the general assembly.
Reversing a decision made last week to end contraceptive coverage for staff and students, Notre Dame said on Tuesday that although it follows Catholic teaching against the use of birth control, the school won’t interfere with the contraception coverage maintained by the insurance company because of the “plurality of religious and other convictions among its employees.”
Notre Dame is taking advantage of recently-added religious exemptions to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which were announced by the Department of Health and Human Services October 6. Previously, the Catholic university was one of several organizations that sued the government over the federal contraceptive mandate, which required most organizations to provide birth control coverage either directly or through a third party service.
On Oct. 6, the Department of Justice revised its guidelines for all government agencies in light of existing religious freedom laws, releasing a set of principles which stated clearly that the government cannot substantially burden religious practices, unless there is a compelling state interest in doing so and those burdens use the least-restrictive means possible. Now the government has settled with those suing over the previous regulations.