Little Sisters of the Poor Hopeful Religious Liberty Fight Will Soon Be Over

Posted: Jun 06, 2017 2:15 PM

Washington, D.C. - Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States, commented Tuesday that President Trump has given the order “real support,” both in a Rose Garden ceremony where Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty and in an apparent draft of a new HHS rule leaked to Vox that would give the Little Sisters a religious exemption to the Obama-era contraceptive mandate.

In his keynote address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence cited the Trump administration’s work to ensure religious liberty for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Sister Constance Veit told that the sisters “would be just as happy if we could go back into the shadows and do what we do so what made us most happy was knowing that our case is going, is on its way to being resolved.”

She said that during the signing of his religious liberty executive order, President Trump “gave us real support that day and it’s been followed up in HHS, there was a rule leaked last week we’re just waiting for the final rule to be published so we’ll just be really happy and feel confident that this administration is going to see it through to the end.”

The Little Sisters and other nonprofit religious organizations that have religious objections to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate have been involved in a nearly five-year long lawsuit against the Obama administration. HHS 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 leaked draft for the new HHS rule would broaden the religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate so that groups like the Little Sisters would be able to opt out.

Sister Constance said that the attorneys representing them at the Becket Fund studied the draft and “are confident that it will bring a positive and final resolution to our case.” She said they were “very pleased with that draft,” and the sisters are “just hoping and praying that that leaked draft is the real draft or very close to it.”

"A change in the rule is welcome and good," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, when the draft was first leaked. "I hope that the leaked draft we're looking at obviously becomes law."

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