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Catonsville nuns appeal contraception case to the Supreme Court

The Little Sisters of the Poor are taking their fight against an Obamacare requirement to provide contraceptive coverage to employees to the Supreme Court.

The global order of nuns, which has its U.S. headquarters in Catonsville, is appealing a ruling last week by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which directed it to comply with the Affordable Care Act requirement that its insurance carrier cover contraception for lay employees or face fines from the IRS.

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"We dedicate our lives to serving the neediest in society, with love and dignity," Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, the order's mother provincial in Baltimore, said in a statement. "We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn't have to.

"We hope the Supreme Court will hear our case and ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God's calling in their lives."

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The Little Sisters, who run homes across the country for the elderly poor, sued over the mandate in 2013, saying that providing contraception would violate Catholic teachings.

The Obama administration has allowed groups with religious objections to sign a form that allows a third party to provide the coverage, but the nuns and others say it amounts to the same thing.

"The Sisters consider it immoral to help the government distribute these drugs," the nuns' attorney, Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. "But instead of simply exempting them, the government insists that it can take over their ministry's employee health care to distribute these drugs to their employees, while dismissing the Sisters' moral objections as irrelevant."

The nuns' petition is the fifth the Supreme Court has received involving religious ministries and the health care mandate, according to the Becket Fund.

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