Pope Francis made a surprise stop to see nuns who are suing the Obama administration for requiring employers to cover the cost of birth control — a visit the convent called a “spiritual shot in the arm” for its lawsuit.
The pope made the unscheduled trip to Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, during a busy first day of his historic trip to the United States. The nuns, who run homes for senior citizens across the country, have been embroiled in a legal battle over the contraception provision of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters that the pope’s visit was a “sign of support for” the nuns.
The nuns are arguing, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that they should not have to provide insurance coverage for birth control for their employees. Under Obamacare, any employer who refuses to do so will be fined. The Sisters say the law goes against their religious beliefs.
Read more: NBC News