President Barack Obama on Friday will announce a new compromise contraception policy in the hopes of tamping down a growing controversy over his handling of an issue that pitted women’s rights against religious freedom.
Instead of requiring religious institutions to provide insurance that covers birth control, senior administration officials Friday said the “administration will be implementing a health care policy that accommodates religious liberty” while still protecting women’s health by placing the onus on insurance companies to provide contraceptive services rather than religious institutions.
According to one official, “the policy going forward” will be that the insurance company, not the charity or hospital, “will have to reach out to [employees] and offer it free of charge.”
Officials repeatedly called the new policy “commonsense” and “responsible,” while downplaying the effect of the political controversy that has exploded during the past 10 days.
“Throughout this process, we’ve talked with stakeholders throughout the country,” one White House official said, adding that “we weren’t just starting that work this week.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.