Obama Scraps Birth Control Mandate
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In an abrupt reversal, President Obama has dumped his controversial plan to make religious-run institutions offer insurance coverage for birth control, but he's insisting instead that insurance companies provide it to women employees directly. (Feb. 10)


(Location: White House - Feb. 8, 2012) (Source: AP) (VO: Obama walk-in) Hit by a political firestorm, President Obama has bowed to critics and changed course. (VO: B-roll church-run school/Fordham? or hospital) He's scrapping a mandate that church-run schools and hospitals offer employees health insurance that covers birth control. (VO: FILE women health care B-roll) Instead, insurance COMPANIES will have to offer coverage DIRECTLY to those workers with no copays. (VO: Back to Obama) Obama calls this as a reasonable compromise. (SOT/President Obama) "Religious liberty will be protected. And a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women." (VO: To CPAC) But the president's critics saw a telling climbdown after an attack on faith. (SOT/Rick Santorum, GOP presidential hopeful) "It's about freedom of religion. It's about government control of your lives and it's got to stop." (VO: B-roll St. Patricks) Opposition had been led by Catholic bishops, and the reversal left some Catholics relieved, others conflicted. (SOT/MOS)(Steve Quigley / Catholic parishioner in New York)SOT: As a Catholic I'm also a lawyer I was very concerned on the First Amendment issues. Almost more than the particular contraception issues. I think there has to be a very careful divide between what the government can do and what it can't do when it crosses into those First Amendment, freedom of worship issues.(Rosemary ahmed / Catholic Parishioner in New York)SOT: They should have the right to be able to, the workers, avail themselves of whatever their needs are. Other people don't have to use it just because it's in the policy that doesn't mean they have to use it in my opinion. (VO: Obama cutaway) Meantime, Obama acknowledged that while he EXPECTED a compromise, the furor sped it up. (SOT/Obama) "It became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option." But he also couldn't resist a shot at critics. (SOT/Obama) "Some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue" (VO/Obama walk-out) Still, some Obama allies worried about an avoidable, self-inflicted, election-year wound. (Standup close) All that said, the political damage may have already been done. GOP critics have had three weeks to tee off on the president and top aides. And social issues that Obama's campaign team once thought would be far overshadowed by the economy have been given a new lease on life. Mark Smith, AP, WHSOURCE: Pool, AP