WASHINGTON (AP) – Rushing to end a political uproar, President BarackObama on Friday will announce that religious employers will not have to coverbirth control for their employees after all, The Associated Press has learned. The administration instead will demand that insurance companies will be the ones directly responsible for providing free contraception.
Obama’s abrupt shift is an attempt to satisfy both sides of a deeply sensitive debate, and most urgently, to end a mounting election-year nightmare for theWhite House. The leader of a Catholic organization and a prominent women’s group both expressed initial support for the changes.
Women will still get guaranteed access to birth control without co-pays or premiums no matter where they work, a provision of Obama’s health care law that he insisted must remain. But religious universities and hospitals that see contraception as an unconscionable violation of their faith can refuse to cover it, and insurance companies will then have to step in to do so.
Obama will speak about his decision at 12:15 p.m. EST.
Senior administration officials confirmed the details to the AP but insisted they remain anonymous in advance of the president’s announcement.
By keeping free contraception for employers at religious workplaces–but providing a different way to do it–the White House will assert it gave no ground on the basic principle of full preventative care that matters most to Obama.
Yet, it also was clear that Obama felt he had no choice but to retreat on a three-week-old policy in the face of a fierce political furor that showed no signs of cooling.
The White House consulted leaders on both sides of the debate to forge a decision.
Read more at the Associated Press