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December 19 2012

Will ObamaCare Force a Charitable Order of Nuns to Leave U.S.?

Charlotte Hays

It appears that Obamacare is about to send my favorite order of nuns—the Little Sisters of the Poor—packing.

Nobody likes being asked for money. But I confess that I love it every year when a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor comes to my parish to beg. Beg is the right word for what these very humble nuns do: the visiting sister always makes a little talk about the work they do and then stands in the back of the church with a basket, which is always filled to overflowing by members of the church.

The Little Sisters of the Poor operate a home for the indigent elderly in Washington. Their talks are always interesting and show how very close they are to the people they serve. But I may have heard a talk by one of these fine women for the last time.

The Daily Caller reports:

A religious order of nuns is concerned about its future presence in the United States because of Obamacare’s impact on its charitable operations. The Little Sisters of the Poor told The Daily Caller that it may not qualify for a long-term exemption from Obamacare’s healthcare mandate. The law requires the order to provide government-approved health insurance to its 300 sisters who tend to the elderly in 30 U.S. cities.

The exception is needed, said Sister Constance Carolyn Veit, the Little Sisters’ communications director, because Catholic teaching opposes contraception and medical treatments that cause sterility or can cause abortions.

President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul law requires employers to include those services in qualifying health care plans they provide for their employees. Failure to comply will bring hefty fines — even for religious orders whose members have taken vows of poverty.

In a way, it is not surprising that Obamacare threatens this fine group of women—what they do is just the opposite of Obamacare. They operate with kindness and know the people in their care very well. This is just about as far as it gets from a government bureaucrat making life and death decisions for people he has never met.

As sad as this is for the indigent elderly the sisters serve, the loss would be even sadder for our country. Religious liberty is one of the cornerstones of the nation. Who would have thought that the federal government would be making it impossible for an order of humble nuns who serve the poor to operate in our country?

The Little Sisters of the Poor were founded in France. No doubt there is plenty of work for them to do there. But I would hate to lose them.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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