The Obama Administration’s Shockingly Unnecessary ‘War’ on Nuns Who Serve the Elderly Poor

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Speaking at a fundraiser for NARAL Pro-Choice America in October 2011, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius declared that those of us arguing for conscience rights in the face of Obamacare were not only backward but belligerent:

They don’t just want to go after the last 18 months, they want to roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America.

We’ve come a long way in women’s health over the last few decades, but we are in a war.

Her word, not mine. 

The president, around the same time, bragged about it

Earlier this afternoon, I was on a media phone call held by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in their case against the HHS abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate. Overwhelmingly clear was the reminder that the strategy of obfuscation on this issue has been a winning one – not for freedom but the administration’s stubborn insistence that women like the Little Sisters who run elderly-care homes have to provide or otherwise grant permission for the coverage of products and procedures that are not morally licit in the teachings of the Church they have devoted their lives to in a most countercultural way.

Much commentary today — and many of the reporter’s questions — insist, as the administration has for a while now, that the Sisters have no religious-liberty problem: sign a form, all’s well. Except it’s not, and the Sisters won’t. Being told it has to green-light insurance coverage is not religious freedom in America. This accommodation/arbitrary exemption/exception business is for the birds. And yet, it is a brilliant, confusing strategy! It helped win the president another term as he and his principles insisted there was nothing to look at in Americans going to court over the Obamacare “contraception” regulation.

“We just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates our work,” Sister Constance Veit, L.S.P. told me this fall. Is that seriously too much to ask in the United States of America anymore? It is, of course, their right, and our obligation to protect and defend as a matter of good civil stewardship as the president drives a radical secular agenda instead.

(Full disclosure, the Little Sisters of the Poor are joined by Christian Brothers Services in the suit, which provides employer insurance for the Cardinal Newman Society, which I am on the board of.)

Sometime this weekend, consider a word or donation of support by way of thanks to the Little Sisters for being so counterculturally authentic, beacons of integrity, and inspiration.