(Updates with lawsuit claims in second paragraph.)
Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Seven states sued the U.S. seeking to block a government mandate requiring religious organizations to offer birth control for their employees, on grounds the requirement violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Nebraska by the state’s attorney General Jon Bruning, claims the requirement violates free exercise of religion and freedom of speech rights. The case, brought on behalf of Catholic schools, organizations, and individuals, was joined by Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
The regulation “would coerce religious organizations, institutions, care providers, outreach groups, and social service agencies, among others to directly subsidize” different forms of contraception against their religious beliefs, according to the complaint.
The mandate is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. This month, Obama offered a compromise that would force health insurers, and not religious-affiliated charities, to pay for contraceptives for employees of those institutions. Republican lawmakers have vowed to push for a measure in Congress to repeal the policy.
Erin Shields, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment on pending litigation.
The case is Nebraska v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12-CV-03035, U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.
--Editors: Mary Romano, Glenn Holdcraft
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