Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, said Friday morning that the order of nuns is “at the 1-yard line now” in their case against Obamacare’s contraception mandate following an executive order on religious liberty signed by President Donald Trump.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor, sued the Obama administration for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to cover contraceptive and abortifacient drugs in their employee health insurance plans. The nuns argued that providing the drugs would violate their conscience, as Catholic Church teaching forbids their use.
On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order directing the IRS not to take “adverse action” against religious organizations for political speech, and directing HHS to “consider issuing amended regulations” to address “conscience-based objections” to the contraception mandate.
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During remarks at the White House before signing the order, Trump invited the Little Sisters onto the stage with him and told them their “long ordeal will soon be over.”
During an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” Veit said “we’re still trusting the Lord, that he’s going to see this to the end.”
“He’s never let us down before as a community, and so we’re just trusting Him,” she added. “It’s like we’re at the 1-yard line now with the goal right in front of us.”
Some religious conservatives expressed disappointment with the final product of the executive order, arguing that it did not go far enough.
The ACLU, which had been threatening a lawsuit over the order, reversed course after the text of the order was made public. In a statement, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero dismissed the order as “an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”
Becket Fund senior counsel Lori Windham, who represented the Little Sisters in their case against HHS, said that she considers the order a “win.”
Pres. Trump tells the Little Sisters of the Poor "your ordeal is over" saying his new Executive Order will protect… https://t.co/q8agz3l4Bb— Wyatt Goolsby (@Wyatt Goolsby) 1493913378.0
“The president is ordering the agencies to do exactly what the law and what the Supreme Court requires,” Windham said.
Veit said that the five-year ordeal and threats of fines of about $70 million a year for non-compliance have been “the cause of a lot of anxiety for us.”
She also said the experience has also been “eye-opening” and introduced them to well-meaning supporters in various faith groups.
“We’ve just met so many wonderful people,” Veit said.