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IPFS News Link • Obamacare

The nuns who are challenging Obamacare will attend the State of the Union


Two members of the order of Catholic nuns waging a court battle against President Obama's signature health-care reform law will attend his final State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis).

The Little Sisters of Poor are challenging the health law's requirement that group insurance plans offer contraceptive coverage at no additional cost. The order runs 30 nursing homes in the United States, and while it has invoked a "conscience clause" in the health law meant to accommodate religious objections, its female employees would remain eligible for free birth control from a third party under a workaround devised by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That workaround is on hold pending the outcome of the litigation.

The nuns are challenging the conscience-clause workaround, and they have the backing of leaders ranging from Ryan to Pope Francis, who met with the sisters during his September trip to Washington. The Supreme Court announced in December it would take up the sisters' case this year.

Ryan, who is Catholic, announced Monday that Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, the order's mother provincial, and Sister Constance Veit will sit in the Speaker's Box during Tuesday's address. "The Little Sisters of the Poor care for the most vulnerable among us, and they should be free to practice their faith without the threat of government interference or intimidation," he said in a statement. "The Sisters' stand in defense of religious liberty – one of our most fundamental rights – is nothing short of courageous, and it's my privilege to support their cause."