(RNN) - Two Catholic universities have filed suit against the Obama administration and its mandate requiring employers to offer coverage of, among other things, birth control.
Suits by the University of Notre Dame and Franciscan University were among 12 filed on Monday by 43 plaintiffs. The universities say the mandate to provide coverage for services that are in direct violation of their faith intrudes on their First Amendment right to religious freedom.
The university "must provide, or facilitate the provision of, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptive services to its employees in violation of the centuries' old teachings of the Catholic Church," the lawsuit from Notre Dame reads.
"Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services," said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame.
"We believe that, if the government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents. We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the government not impose its values on the university when those values conflict with our religious teachings."
Last week, Franciscan University announced it planned to drop student health coverage because of the mandate.
The Rev. Terrence Henry, president of Franciscan University, said the mandate "constitutes a monumental overstepping of presidential power undreamt of by the framers of our Constitution."
So far, the White House has had no comment on the lawsuits.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule in June on whether President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law as a whole - including the contraception mandate - is constitutional. The court could keep the law in place as-is, rule parts of it unconstitutional or throw out the entire law altogether.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Closed Captioning Contact: