President Obama moved swiftly Friday to quell a politically perilous uproar involving two hot-button issues: birth control and religious institutions.
In January, the Obama administration announced that under its health care law, religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools would have to include birth control in their employees' health coverage.
All this week, Republicans on Capitol Hill bashed that policy as a violation of religious freedom, and some of the president's fellow Democrats added to the heat.
The White House is trying to mend fences with Catholics and others who were outraged at a new rule governing insurance coverage for birth control.
That policy would have required Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions to cover birth control in their employees' health insurance. Critics called that an assault on religious freedom.
President Obama announced a change of course Friday, and the White House is hoping to regain religious allies and maintain support from the women who voted for the president.
Thousands of Republican activists from around the country are in Washington listening to party leaders and conservative media stars. The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, wraps up Saturday.
The backdrop of the gathering is the heated presidential race. Three of the remaining candidates spoke Friday. The fourth, Ron Paul, skipped the conference. The headliner for the final session Saturday will be Sarah Palin.
Four years ago, this meeting was where Mitt Romney took his farewell bow, leaving the presidential race.
President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who'd opposed his original plan.