– Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing pro-life organization March for Life filed a friend-of-the-court brief
Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court that asks it to uphold U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules which protect organizations with religious or moral objections to abortion, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, from being subject to a federal requirement that employer health plans cover abortifacients.
The previous administration implemented the requirement, which forces many employers to provide employees with abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy financial penalties, regardless of the employers’ religious or moral convictions. HHS issued temporary rules in 2017 that were designed to free objecting employers from the requirement and pave the way to potential resolution of numerous outstanding lawsuits. HHS eventually published final versions
of the new protections, but legal challenges have prevented them from going into effect.
“The government shouldn’t be forcing anyone to violate their conscience by providing drugs and devices that can destroy life,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “We are asking the Supreme Court to affirm the HHS protections, which ensure that pro-life organizations like March for Life and Little Sisters of the Poor can pursue their missions consistent with their beliefs.”
The HHS protections at issue in the two cases the Supreme Court is considering, The Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
and Trump v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
, are also at issue in a separate case
in which March for Life filed its own petition with the high court.
The friend-of-the-court brief argues that the Little Sisters of the Poor have sufficient legal standing to defend the HHS rules, since they provide broader conscience protections and greater flexibility in providing health insurance, and that the states challenging the rules do not have such standing, because they “have no right to a federal subsidization of abortifacients and contraceptives.” Additionally, “the fact that these States were unable to find a single individual plaintiff who is allegedly harmed by the religious and moral exemptions shows that contraceptives are widely available and that the federal government lacks a compelling reason to violate the religious and moral convictions of organizations who oppose abortifacients and artificial contraception.”
“Finally,” the brief states, “the federal agencies who promulgated the contraceptive mandate had authority to create the religious and moral exemptions. In enacting the Affordable Care Act, Congress said nothing about requiring employers to provide abortifacients and artificial contraception. Just as the legislation left agencies with discretion to include such a requirement, the agencies had concomitant discretion to fashion religious and moral exemptions.”Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.