Washington: President Barack Obama will
announce a plan to accommodate religious employers outraged by
a rule that would require them to cover birth control for
women free of charge, according to a person familiar with the
Obama was expected to make the announcement at the White
The shift is aimed at containing the political firestorm
that erupted after Obama announced in January that
religious-affiliated employers had to cover birth control as
preventative care for women.
Churches and houses of worship were exempt, but all other
affiliated organisations were ordered to comply by August
Republican leaders and religious groups, especially Roman
Catholics, responded with outrage, saying the requirement
would force them to violate church teachings and long-held
beliefs against contraception.
The issue pushed social issues to the forefront in an
election year that had been dominated by the economy.
Abortion, contraception and any of the requirements of
Obama`s health care overhaul law have the potential to
galvanise the Republicans` conservative base, critical to
voter turnout in the presidential race.
Republicans vowed to reverse the president`s policy, with
House Speaker John Boehner accusing the administration of
violating First Amendment rights and undermining some of the
country`s most vital institutions, such as Catholic charities,
schools and hospitals.
The measure also sparked an internal debate at the White
House. Vice President Joe Biden, then-chief of staff Bill
Daley and deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough,
all Catholics, raised concerns about how the administration
proceeded on the policy.
The person with knowledge of Obama`s decision requested
anonymity in order to speak in advance of the official