New York's 2017 abortion healthcare mandate for employers finds fierce opposition in a group of nuns from various dioceses.
The Christian Post (CP) reported that the coalition of religious organizations from various dioceses led by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding New York's mandate for employers to provide abortion coverage in their health care plans for employees.
Faith-based corporations, local branches of Catholic Charities, individual Catholic Churches, and Anglican nuns also joined the dioceses in filing the lawsuit. All of whom are legally represented by Jones Day law firm and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The nuns believed that the New York mandate is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment for "it imposes severe burdens on their religious exercise" and strong convictions against abortion, CP noted.
The 48-page petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court as Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Et.Al. v. Linda A. Lacewell, Superintendent, New York State Department of Financial Services, Et. Al. raised that the mandate specifies that religious organizations must cover abortions "if they have a broader mission (such as service to the poor) or if they employ or serve people regardless of their faith."
The petition identified the nuns from the Sisterhood of St. Mary and the Teresian House Nursing Home Company as part of the petitioners.
"Needless to say, this regulation imposes enormous burdens on the countless religious entities opposed to abortion as a matter of longstanding and deep-seated religious conviction," the petition's Introduction stressed.
"Because New York's regulation forces these organizations to violate their religious beliefs, they filed suit in New York state court seeking to enjoin this abortion mandate as a violation of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. They argued that the mandate runs afoul of the Free Exercise Clause because it imposes severe burdens on their religious exercise, and that it runs afoul of both Religion Clauses because it interferes with religious autonomy," it elaborated.
The petition also raised that statutory protections on the federal level have "often obviated the need to further define the scope of the Free Exercise Clause," such that the "reach of the Religion Clauses is in urgent need of clarification."
It cited the recent cased in COVID-related emergency that have shown the lower courts being "hopelessly divided." It stressed that the petition would serve as a landmark case to address the said issues and "provide clear guidance to the lower courts." Most importantly, the petition hoped that the petitioners be granted of the case they have filed in court.
CP added that the petitioners actually filed a petition in the state court but was denied it. The Sisterhood of Saint Mary's Mother Miriam said that state officials pointed out that the only recourse for religious organizations to uphold their "beliefs about the sanctity of life," which is against abortion, would be to "stop serving Non-Anglicans." CP explained that the Sisterhood of St. Mary's is the oldest religious order of Anglicans in the United States.
Mother Miriam told CP that they "cannot compromise" their religious beliefs nor stop serving people of various faiths or no faith just because the state mandated such a healthcare provision. For this reason, she said, they needed "relief from the Supreme Court" through the petition they filed.