Jun 04, 2014

Two religiously affiliated non-profits should not receive further exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraception mandate, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.In a friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Americans United says that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville, N.Y., are not unfairly burdened by a requirement to certify their objection to the contraception mandate.

“Religiously affiliated organizations are already entitled to generous accommodations that exempt them from paying for birth control,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “All these charities have to do is sign a piece of paper confirming their objection to birth control. That’s not asking much.”

The brief in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre v. Sebelius notes that according to current law, the charities must simply confirm their objection, after which an independent third party will offer their employees comprehensive contraception coverage. But the groups claim that even signing a piece of paper is a violation of their religious liberty.

“Accordingly, the Accommodation calls for Plaintiffs to do what they have always done: notify their third-party administrators of their religious objection to providing most forms of contraceptive coverage,” the brief notes. “No matter how sincere Plaintiffs’ religious objection to contraceptives may be, they lack the right to interfere with that governmental choice.”

The brief also notes a level of hypocrisy on the part of the Archdiocese of New York. Its health care service, ArchCare, already “financially contributes to coverage for contraception and elective abortion to 3,000 unionized employees,” though the group claims it does so “under protest,” the brief says.The brief was prepared by Ayesha N. Khan, Americans United’s legal director, and Caitlin E. O’Connell, Americans United’s Madison Fellow, with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union’s national and New York state affiliates.