Even without the health care mandate, Catholic Charities would have to tell its insurer it doesn’t want to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and related counseling services, the government argued on Wednesday in a federal court filing.
Under the Affordable Care Act, religious nonprofits such as Catholic Charities wouldn’t have to pay for, arrange for or otherwise provide such coverage, but once they notified their insurer, the insurer would arrange coverage at no cost to the nonprofit, Bradley Humphreys, a trial lawyer for the Justice Department, said in the brief.
Since the nonprofit would make that notification anyway, it can’t argue that it’s being required to do something it wouldn’t have done, he said.
“This extraordinary contention suggests that plaintiffs not only seek to avoid paying for, administering or otherwise providing contraceptive coverage themselves, but also seek to prevent the women who work for Catholic Charities from obtaining such coverage, even if through other parties,” Humphreys said.
The government is asking U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab to allow the mandate to take effect on Jan. 1.
Robert Lockwood, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, referred questions to the lawyers handling the case. Paul Pohl, the lead attorney, didn’t return calls for comment.
The Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses and their related nonprofits sued the government this month over the mandate and asked the judge to block the government from enforcing it while they pursue their lawsuits.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh in a hearing last week argued that even the notification would violate Catholic Charities’ principles because the notification would trigger coverage for services it believes are immoral.
Schwab has scheduled a hearing on the preliminary injunction for Nov. 12 and 13.