I support the Little Sisters of the Poor, which petitioned U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and won a temporary stay of the million-dollar fines that would have been imposed on nuns as of Jan. 1 for not providing products and services in direct denial of our deeply held religious beliefs ["Law kicks in, ready or not," News, Jan. 1].

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires most employers, including Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, charities, universities and high schools, to provide or facilitate abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization, within their health insurance, or face bankrupting fines of $100 per day per employee.

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At issue is nothing less than America's religious freedom, assured by the First Amendment and reaffirmed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed with bipartisan support in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. To assert that women's health is harmed if the Sisters of the Poor do not provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization insults the intelligence of women and the common sense of all Americans.

This mandate was never proposed as law, never debated, nor voted on by anyone answerable to voters. If a regulation signed into effect by a government bureaucrat can dictate how much of their religious beliefs Americans are allowed to practice, what will be the next freedom deemed unfair or inconvenient?

Barbara Samuells, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer is the president of Catholics for Freedom of Religion, an advocacy organization.