(WASHINGTON) — Seeking to quell a political uproar over religious freedom and contraception, President Obama announced Friday that religious-affiliated institutions will not be mandated to cover birth control for their employees after all.
Insurance companies will instead be directly responsible for providing free contraception and covering the cost.
“Religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.
The president’s abrupt shift is intended to calm the firestorm surrounding the administration’s recent ruling to require most employers, including Catholic hospitals and charities, to offer health insurance that fully covers contraception and satisfy both sides of the explosive debate.
Under the new policy, women will still get guaranteed access to contraception without a co-pay regardless of where they work. If a woman works for an employer that objects to providing contraception because of its religious beliefs, the insurance company will step in and offer birth control free of charge.
The president made clear that the “accommodation” should not be seen as his backing off his commitment to providing preventative care.
Both sides of the debate have reacted positively to the president’s revised plan.
The president of the Catholic Health Association said she is “pleased” with the revised policy.
Planned Parenthood also supported the president’s decision.
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