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August 25, 2014

White House Offers New Compromise on Contraceptive Mandate

The Obama administration laid out new rules Friday for faith-affiliated nonprofits to opt out of providing birth-control coverage for their workers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Under the new plan, the federal government will take responsibility for ensuring such coverage for employees at organizations that state in writing in religious objection to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.

The administration announced plans to tweak its initial accommodation for religious groups following the Supreme Court's June 30 ruling in the Hobby Lobby case and the stay the court granted days later shielding an Illinois evangelical college from the requirement while it pursues a legal challenge. The new proposal closely follows a course suggested by the court majority in the latter decision.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the new rule reinforces the administration's commitment to ensuring women have access to affordable contraception "while respecting [employers'] religious considerations." The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a legal nonprofit that represents groups fighting the mandate in court, quickly denounced the accommodation, Religion News Service writes.