Pope to meet with nuns challenging Obamacare contraception mandate
Pope Francis made an unsheduled stop at the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the order of nuns challenging the Obamacare mandate in court. The Vatican referred to the visist as a "brief but highly symbolic" gesture of support for their cause.
Last August, a federal appeals court in Denver put on hold its ruling that the order of Roman Catholic nuns must comply with a contraception mandate in the law, giving the group time to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nuns had sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act over the birth control provision of the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
The Sisters argued that the law forces them to provide insurance coverage for their employees to support contraception and sterilization services in violation of their religious beliefs, or face steep fines.
Under a compromise crafted under the healthcare law, religious groups can opt-out of paying for the services, but a third party or an insurance carrier must foot the bill.
The Sisters, who operate more than two dozen nursing homes nationwide, said that still makes them complicit in providing artificial birth-control services even if they did not directly pay for them.
The symbolism of this visit cannot be overstated. It is a direct challenge to the administration and their bogus "workaround" for people of conscience. The "compromise" is fine if you don't mind compromising your principles. But those without strong religious beliefs cannot fathom why the workaround isn't acceptable. It is beyond the ken of their understanding, hence they believe that resistance is petty and unnecessary.
The pope may not have intended this challenge to be political, but he must have understood the political perception of his gesture. It makes his speech this afternoon before a joint session of Congress even more interesting than it would have been.