Seven states are suing President Obama's administration over the mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes contraception, sterilization and abortifacient services.
The suit was filed Thursday by attorney generals from Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Piux X Catholic High School, Catholic Social Services, Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and two private citizens, Stacy Molai and Sister Mary Catherine, will also be plaintiffs in the case.
The suit alleges that the administration violated the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when it required religious institutions to purchase health insurance for employees that would provide contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients.
"Government has no business forcing religious institutions and individuals to violate their sincerely held beliefs. This lawsuit is about protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience, our most basic freedoms as Americans," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a Thursday press release.
President Obama announced a change in the policy earlier this month that he had hoped would satisfy critics of the proposal. Religious employers would not be required to pay for insurance that covered birth control, but if their employees requested it, the insurance companies would have to provide the coverage at no additional cost.
That change did not satisfy many critics because some religious institutions would still be purchasing health insurance that provides a service in opposition to their religious beliefs. Also, some religious institutions are self-insure, so they would have to pay for the coverage for any employee who requested it.
There have now been eight lawsuits, including three from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, filed against the administration's birth control mandate.
Last week, the Justice Department urged courts to stay out of the controversy until a compromise is reached. Administration officials have said, though, that there will be no further changes to the current policy.