By Stephanie Simon and Caren Bohan
The White House, in an abrupt shift aimed at quelling an election-year firestorm, announced on Friday that religious employers would not be required to offer free birth control to workers and that the onus would instead be put on insurers.
The compromise, to be formally unveiled by President Barack Obama, seeks to accommodate religious organizations outraged by a new rule that would have required them to offer free contraceptive coverage.
Instead, the new approach puts the burden on insurance companies, ordering them to provide workers at religious-affiliated institutions with free family planning if they request it, without involving their employer at all, the White House said.
The rule had sparked an outcry from Catholic Church leaders, Republicans and other social conservatives who denounced it as an attack on religious freedom.
The policy shift is aimed at defusing the controversy and preventing it from…
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