At least seven religious plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the Obama administration over the president’s contraception mandate for health care coverage. That requirement forces most health insurance plans to offer free preventative services for women.
So far the majority of civil complaints have come from small religious colleges and universities that claim the mandate infringes upon their religious liberty and forces institutions to provide services that violate their faith.
“The issue here is exercising our religious freedom, not contraception or abortion,” Geneva College President Ken Smith told The Daily Caller. “And I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Roman Catholic Church on this issue or anyone else for that matter.”
Nebraska and six other states also challenged the mandate with a lawsuit in federal court Thursday, according to a Reuters report. “The First Amendment has for centuries served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty,” the suit argues.
The other states include Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Catholic Social Services, the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and Pius X Catholic High School in Nebraska were identified as co-plaintiffs.
But the more surprising development may be the entrance into the fight of Christians from denominations other than Roman Catholicism. (RELATED: Full coverage of the health reform law)
On Tuesday the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of Geneva College, a Beaver Falls, Penn. school affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and Louisiana College, a Baptist institution, adding them to the growing list of plaintiffs.
Others include Catholic schools Ave Maria University and Belmont Abbey College, the Baptist-influenced Colorado Christian University, and the Catholic-aligned Eternal World Television Network and pro-life Priests for Life organization, all of which filed separate lawsuits and are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
“This mandate is a violation of our first amendment rights and we will not stand for it,” Louisiana College President Dr. Joe Aguillard told The Daily Caller. “There will be no compromise. We will go to jail if that’s what it takes but we’ve put our foot down.”
The Obama administration’s controversial mandate will most likely be a factor through the entire 2012 Presidential election season.
The Catholic University of America, located in Washington, D.C., takes an official position against the policy. Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Victor Nakas said the university has not yet determined whether it will file its own lawsuit.
Even if Catholic University remains on the sidelines, it could decide to revoke its employees’ health care coverage in protest. A number of Protestant colleges have already expressed enough discontent with the Obama mandate to justify a national discussion about that option.
Roughly 120 college presidents, many from Protestant schools, met in the nation’s capital Feb. 1–3 for an annual meeting sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. The contraceptive mandate was a hot topic of discussion.