By Sam Baker - 02/23/12 10:20 PM EST
Seven state attorneys general sued the Obama administration Thursday over its order requiring some religious employers to cover birth control in their employees’ healthcare plans.
In the suit, the states argue that the White House infringed on the religious freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
The attorneys general from Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas also joined the lawsuit.
The White House policy requires most employers to include contraception in their employees’ healthcare plans without charging a co-pay. Churches and houses of worship are exempt. Institutions such as Catholic hospitals do not have to provide the coverage directly, but their employees still must receive contraception through their insurance companies with no co-pay.
The Health and Human Services Department has said it will delay the requirements for religious employers for one year. But the states’ lawsuit, which was joined by several Catholic organizations, states that HHS has already finalized the rule and therefore Catholic institutions are subject to the mandate now.
HHS has also said it will use that yearlong delay to decide how its policy will work with religious employers that self-insure.