The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a lawsuit against the controversial HHS Mandate on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order of Sisters dedicated to caring for the elderly poor. Without relief, the Little Sisters face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
The Little Sisters are joined by their religious health benefits
providers, Christian Brothers Services
and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, and a class of other religious
organizations facing similar fines, in the first class action lawsuit against
Sisters of the Poor are an international Roman Catholic Congregation of women
Religious founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan. They operate homes in 31
countries, where they provide loving care for over 13,000 needy elderly
persons. Thirty of these homes are located in the United States.
“Like all of
the Little Sisters, I have vowed to God and the Roman Catholic Church that I
will treat all life as valuable, and I have dedicated my life to that work,” explained Sister Loraine Marie, Superior for one of the three U.S.
provinces in the Congregation. “We cannot violate our
vows by participating in the government's program to provide access to abortion
Little Sisters’ homes perform a religious ministry of caring for the elderly
poor, they do not fall within the government’s narrow exemption for “religious
employers.” Accordingly, beginning on January 1,
the Little Sisters will face IRS fines unless they violate their religion by
hiring an insurer to provide their employees with contraceptives,
sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
should obviously be exempted as ‘religious employers,’ but the government has
refused to expand its definition,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel
for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Little
Sisters. “These women just want to take care of the
elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their
work. The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it
always has—and not to pay the IRS.”
is the first of its kind both because it is a class-action suit that will
represent hundreds of Catholic non-profit ministries with similar beliefs and
because it is the first on behalf of benefits providers who cannot comply with
was filed in federal District Court in Denver. There are now 72 lawsuits challenging the mandate.