President Obama said Friday he sped up work to allow religious employers a way around a controversial administration rule making employers pay for birth control coverage for all workers.
"Last week, I directed the Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been envisioned," President Obama said in a televised speech. "We were not going to spend a year doing this."
The White House said Friday it was publishing a rule that would provide contraception coverage for women while not making employers pay for it if they object on religious grounds. The administration has been under pressure from religious groups and Republicans who said requirements to cover birth control for all workers violated religious freedom.
The White House at first said that religious-affiliated organizations, such as Catholic hospitals, would have to provide the cover but would have a year to come up with a way to do so. Obama acknowledged that the firestorm of protest moved up the timeline. "We needed to move faster," he said.