A federal judge in Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction Friday blocking President Trump’s broadening of the religious exemption to Obamacare’s birth control mandate. The exemption allowed groups, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to opt out of covering birth control due to religious and moral objections.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration shortly after the exemption was announced.
Pennsylvania Judge Wendy Beetlestone, an Obama appointee, decided Friday that the state is "likely to suffer serious and irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction."
“Millions of women could be denied needed contraceptive care against the advice of science, public health and medical professionals,” Shapiro argued at a press conference he held at a Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania clinic in Philadelphia when he initially announced the lawsuit.
However, lawyers at the Becket Fund who have been representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in their five year legal battle against the birth control mandate strongly disagree.
“Sadly Josh Shapiro and Xavier Becerra think attacking nuns is a way to score political points,” Becket Law’s Senior Counsel Mark Rienzi commented on the Pennsylvania lawsuit and one brought by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “These men may think their campaign donors want them to sue nuns, but our guess is most taxpayers disagree. No one needs nuns in order to get contraceptives, and no one needs these guys reigniting the last administration’s divisive and unnecessary culture war.”
"These states are specifically targeting religious groups," Rienzi said in November. "Pennsylvania has never required anyone to provide contraceptives. Now Pennsylvania is claiming religious groups have to provide these services."
"Legally there is no good argument for what these states are doing," he added.
“We just want to be able to continue our religious mission of caring for the elderly poor as we have over 175 years,” Mother Loraine Marie Maguire with the Little Sisters of the Poor commented on the states’ lawsuits. “We pray that these state governments will leave us alone and let us do our work in peace.”
Paying for or supporting the use of contraception is contrary to fundamental Catholic moral teaching. The Obama administration offered the groups an accommodation that would delegate the contraception coverage to a third party, but they objected that the process still left them complicit in the coverage.
Their case was remanded to appeals courts with direction from the Supreme Court that the Obama administration and the organizations work out a compromise. The Little Sisters’ original lawsuit is still ongoing.