WASHINGTON, D.C., March 17, 2014 ( – A national organization of nuns long known for its disagreement with the Catholic Church on abortion, contraception, and the ordination of women has formally backed the federal government's abortion drug mandate. 

In January, the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) wrote an open letter declaring its support for the mandate, which also requires coverage of contraception and sterilization. That position is in direct opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the guidance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

Last month, NCAN began circulating an online petition for support. That petition has nearly 3,300 signatures, and is supported by the multi-faith, pro-abortion, pro-“sexual health” Religious Institute.


NCAN, which claims to have “over 2,000 members” and says “a woman cannot have full autonomy unless she has Reproductive Autonomy,” also supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In its latest letter, the organization says it “is dismayed that the Little Sisters of the Poor-Colorado, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic organizations are challenging the Affordable Care Act.” 

According to NCAN, “These organizations are attempting to hold hostage all women by refusing insurance to them for contraceptives,” and are “spurred on by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.” 

The mandate was created under the ACA and will be in front of the Supreme Court on March 25 in lawsuits pushed by Christian owners of two businesses. The mandate forces for-profit organizations to cover contraception, abortion drugs, and sterilization procedures, and non-profits who do not want to provide this coverage are required to sign paperwork giving their insurance companies freedom to do so independently. 

Opponents of the mandate are calling the latter requirement an accounting gimmick, since the non-profits would still be involved in the process. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom – which represents several organizations opposing the mandate – 54 injunctions have been granted against the mandate, contrasted with seven that have gone against those opposing the mandate.

A spokesperson for Sisters of Life told LifeSiteNews that it “remain[s] opposed to the HHS mandate because it is an affront to the dignity of women.” The Sisters have long stood with the Bishops against the encroaching mandate, and the spokesperson said that the Sisters “stand united with our Bishops and other people of good will in recognizing the essential primacy of upholding the freedom of conscience rights.”

This is not the first time NCAN has inserted itself into politically and doctrinally thorny circumstances. Its coordinator, Donna Quinn, is a Chicago nun who defied the Vatican's crackdown on dissident nuns in 2012. She has openly escorted women to get abortions, but said in 2012 that she and her fellow nuns are “very, very holy.”

NCAN, whose website has not been updated since 2009, saw its Board send a letter to each Member of Congress requesting the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in 2007. The letter said both men had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” among them alleged dishonesty on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. 

Quinn told one prominent pro-abortion author that opposing the mandate prevents freedom, because “it isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, which surveyed over 12,000 women from 2006 to 2010, 99 percent of women who had ever engaged in sexual relations used contraception. The mandate was first proposed in 2012.

Some backers of the mandate have said the USCCB and others are attempting to deny women rights, as Quinn indicates is the situation. But the mandate's opponents have been focused on the government requirement of coverage, not private negotiations over coverage between employees, employers, and insurance companies.