Under the HHS Mandate, the Sisters of Life Cannot Be the Sisters of Life

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Every professed member of religious Sisters for Life take a vow “to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” But they cannot fully do that, according to the Obama administration. 

In a statement, the Sisters explain what the HHS mandate means for them: 

This new rule pays no heed to our right to live according to our vows.  Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act each of us will be required by law to obtain health insurance, or face fines.  Since this HHS mandate will require every insurer to include abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and artificial contraception, we will not be able to obtain any coverage that is free from those “services,” and we will be forced to pay for them directly.  Since we are neither employers, nor employees, of any religious institution, we cannot even take advantage of the “religious exemption” contained in the new regulations or the “compromise.”

As a result, this mandate would coerce each and every individual Sister of Life to betray her religious vows.  We will be forced to pay for “services” that attack human life and deny the truth and beauty of human sexuality.  This would directly contradict our special religious vow to “to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life,” and go against everything we believe in and have devoted our lives to.  To us, it would be comparable to a law requiring a spouse to violate their marriage vows — an unthinkable intrusion upon a sacred promise.

This mandate is an offensive and dangerous infringement upon the natural and Constitutional rights of American citizens. The only just solution to this infringement of rights is to rescind the HHS rule.  We call upon members of Congress and the Executive Branch to reverse this decision as soon as possible, and we invite our fellow citizens to join with us in prayer and fasting that our Nation may be protected from this great threat against liberty.

Read it all here.


At the House oversight hearing today there was a convent-would-be-ok exchange. Not quite. As Ed Mechmann, assistant director of the Family Life/Respect Life Office at the Archdiocese of New York explains:

In the eyes of the health care law, there are only three entities that matter — an individual, an employer, and an insurance company.  The religious community is not in any sense the employer of the Sisters.  To the health care law, the order is just a voluntary association, like a bowling league — it has no relevance whatsoever.

So, in dealing with the effects of the law, the Sisters are just plain individuals — subject to the individual mandate, not able to take advantage of the employer exemption (such as it is), and required to get a health insurance policy (all of which will be required to have contraception coverage). 

So the Sisters of Life, consecrated to the task of building a culture of life, would have to pay for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. Seriously, Mr. President? Seriously, Secretary Sebelius? Seriously, Joe Biden? Seriously, Nancy Pelosi?