The Obama administration on Friday finalized a regulation under the health care reform law ensuring that all employer-provided insurance plans cover birth control without co-pays. The decision comes despite enormous pressure from the religious right to scale back the mandate, which was proposed last August.
The administration did, however, offer religious nonprofits one extra year, until August 2013, to begin complying with the law.
"This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a statement.
The decision pleased the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The administration's decision not only stands up strong for women's health, but it also sends the loud, clear message that religion should not and cannot be used as a license to discriminate," said ACLU policy counsel Sarah Lipton-Lubet.