Barack Obama
Barack ObamaReuters

The battle line has been drawn between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic Church over birth control.

Church-affiliated institutions, including universities, schools and clinics are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a requirement to include birth control coverage in most of their employee health insurance plans.

Included among those suing the Obama administration are the University of Notre Dame, the Archdioceses of Washington, New York and Michigan, and the Catholic University of America.

The policy was announced by President Barack Obama in January following a recommendation made last year by an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine.

The rule, adopted by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department as a means of improving health care for women, is intended to ensure the possibility that women can space their pregnancies if they so choose.

However, the Roman Catholic Church has protested the mandate, claiming it violates freedom of religion.

The Obama administration offered a compromise that would ask insurers to pay for birth control instead of religious groups – but the church rejected the proposal.

"We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in a statement to media. “We simply ask that the government not impose its values on the university when those values conflict with our religious teachings.”