Axelrod defends administration birth control rule

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama’s top political adviser is defending the administration’s decision requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control for their workers, calling it “important for millions of women around the country.”

David Axelrod concedes the move has caused a rift between the White House and the Roman Catholic Church. And he’s urging people to “lower our voices” and get together on a way to phase in the new policy over the next year and a half.

Catholic leaders have condemned the regulation put out by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Axelrod tells MSNBC Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL’-yuhs) acted on the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation, and that she exempted the churches themselves. He says administration officials “certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedom.”