Continued from page 1

Although administration officials wouldn’t discuss the political ramifications, a senior White House official implied that Catholics by and large would accept the decision.

“Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women have used contraception,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We think it is a balanced approach that tries to respect religious beliefs.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration balanced its approach by exempting churches from the rule, and allowing affected institutions up to a year to implement the change.

“It is not requiring any individual to in any way violate his or her conscience,” Mr. Carney said. “It is not requiring anything but employers — organizations, big hospitals and universities, for example — to offer insurance coverage that includes this service.”