It must be an election year.
President Barack Obama announced today that religious employers like hospitals and universities will not be required to offer free birth control for their employees, according to The Associated Press.
Insurance companies will now be responsible for providing free contraception as a concession and accommodation from Obama to religious groups. The move, however, is not expected to full satisfy some religious groups since birth control will still be fully covered by health insurance.
Birth control in any form is in direct opposition to the beliefs of some religions, most notably Catholicism.
Obama spoke to reporters at the White House earlier today and said women will still be able to get free birth control, but directly from the insurance companies instead of from employers who are opposed to contraception because of their religious views.
Before today’s announcement, only churches and houses of worship were exempt from providing free birth control. Catholic bishops have called the contraception mandate an attack on religious freedom.
Obama made a point to say today that he supports freedom of religion.
“Whether you’re a teacher or a small businesswoman or a nurse or a janitor, no woman’s ‘s health should depend on who she is, or where she works, or how much money she makes,” Obama also said.
Both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association gave thumbs up in support of the move, which they call a compromise and the White House calls an “accommodation.”
It is widely believed that Obama was willing to budge on birth control and religious employers in order to avoid making it into a bigger deal — and making him even more unpopular with conservative and religious groups — during a year in which he’s up for reelection.