Obama Reverses Course on Contraception Rule

President tries to alleviate religious groups' anger concerning contraceptives.
6:46 | 02/10/12

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Transcript for Obama Reverses Course on Contraception Rule
I was pregnant. -- road. I was experiencing good morning but it -- after -- As part of -- Health Care Reform law that I signed. Last year all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care. At no cost. That means free check -- free mammograms and immunizations. And other basic services. We fought for this because it saves lives. And it saves money. For families for businesses. For government. For -- -- That's because it's a lot cheaper to prevent an -- -- to treat more. We also accepted a recommendation from the experts at the institute of medicine. That when it comes to women. Preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control. In addition to family planning doctors often prescribed contraception. As a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers. -- -- A variety of different ailments and we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services. Nearly 99%. Of all women have relied on contraception at some point in -- loss. 99%. And yet more than half of all women between the ages eighteen and 34. Have struggled to afford it. So for all these reasons we decided to follow the judgment of the nation's leading medical experts. And make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive here. What -- your teacher -- small business woman or a nurse or a janitor. No woman's health should depend on who she is or where she works. Or how much money she makes. Everyone should be in control of the decisions that affect -- -- health. Period this basic principle. Is already the -- in 28 states across the country. As we move to implement this rule our. We've been mindful that there is another principle at stake here and that's the principle of religious liberty. An inalienable right that is enshrined in our constitution. As a citizen and as a Christian. I cherish this -- In fact my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods and my salary was funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church. I saw that local churches often did more good for community -- a government program ever put. So I know how important the work that faith based organizations. Do. And how much impact they can have in their communities. I also know that some religious institutions particularly those affiliated with the Catholic Church. Have -- religious objection to directly providing insurance that covers contraceptive services for their employees. That's why -- we originally exempted all churches from this requirement. An exemption by the way that eight states minority -- And that's why from the very beginning of this process. I spoke directly to various Catholic officials. And I promised that before finalizing the rule as it applied to them. We would spend the next year working with institutions like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities. To find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty. And ensures that every woman has access to the care that she needs. Now after the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks. As well it's frankly for more cynical desire on the part of some to make -- -- a political football. It became clear that spending months hammering out a solution. Was not going to be an option that we needed to move this -- So last week I directed. The Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been invasion. We were gonna spend a year doing this we're gonna spend a week -- two doors. Today we've reached a decision on how to move forward. Under the rule. Women will still have access to free preventive. Care that includes contraceptive services no matter where they work. -- that core principle. Remains. But. If woman's implore is that charity or -- hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan. The insurance company. The hospital -- the charity will be required to reach out and offer. The woman contraceptive care free of charge. Without co pays and without hassles. The result will be that religious organizations won't have to pay for these services. And no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. -- -- repeat these employers will not have to pay for or provide. Contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services just like other one. And -- no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or biographers. I've been confident from the start that we could work out with sensible approach. Just -- -- promise. I understand some folks in Washington -- want to treat this as another political wedge issue. But it shouldn't be. I certainly never saw that -- This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate. Have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for every. With today's announcement we've done that. Religious liberty will be protected. And a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women. And we live in the poorest pluralistic society where. We're gonna agree on every single issue or sure it was only. It doesn't mean that we have to choose between individual liberty and basic fairness for all Americans. We are unique among nations for having been founded upon both these principles. And our obligation as citizens to carry them four. I have complete faith that we can do that. Thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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