Nuns Battling Birth Control Mandate Reject New Fix

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, attempting to provide American women with insurance coverage for birth control continues to be a long, exhausting and frustrating process.

In late August, the White House offered up a proposed solution to objections raised by religious non-profits and closely-held private corporations; on Monday, a group of nuns rejected the former part of that fix. Essentially, it seems, they will not be satisfied until none of their female employees get any form of insurance coverage for their birth control. You see, anything else is a violation of their religious beliefs (which presumably confer on them the God-given right to control other humans' private medical decisions).

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The original mandate allowed religious non-profits to self-certify that they had religious objections to birth control, in which case their employees' insurance providers would be responsible for providing the coverage instead. The Little Sisters of the Poor argued that this exception was insufficient — because signing the self-certification form still resulted in their employees getting birth control coverage and thus made the nuns complicit in helping women have affordable reproductive autonomy (the horror!). As a proposed workaround, the White House said that non-profits could notify the government directly if they had religious objections, and the government would take care of informing insurance providers on their behalf. The nuns did not like this solution, mostly because it meant that women would still be able to obtain affordable birth control, which is something God really hates.

In a brief, the Little Sisters of the Poor wrote that the interim rules "change nothing of substance" in the law they find so objectionable. They said they would like to be treated as a religious employer (i.e., a house of worship) and exempted from the rule entirely; the workaround, they say, merely offers them "another way to violate their undisputed religious beliefs." They plan to continue with their appeal because of course they fucking do.

There's no use applying reason to this argument. The Little Sisters genuinely believe that anything that doesn't directly function as a total barrier to birth control coverage for their employees is equivalent with them directly facilitating the wanton handing-out of whore pills. And they're sadly not alone: according to RH Reality Check, there have been 65 cases filed by nonprofits with legal challenges to the rule, 40 of which are still pending in the federal courts. If their appeal is successful, this could give nonprofits across the country the right to systematically deny women their legal right to affordable contraception.

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Looks like the verdict of "which matters more: women's actual health needs or companies' 'consciences'?" remains undecided.

Image via AP.

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