- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

WASHINGTON — The White House says it wants to allay the concerns of Catholic church-affiliated employers over a new requirement for them to provide birth control coverage regardless of their religious beliefs.

Press secretary Jay Carney didn’t say how those concerns could be addressed, though he said there were a lot of ideas for doing it.

He continued to defend the new policy, while making clear Tuesday that the White House is looking for a way to calm the growing election-year firestorm that’s erupted since it was announced late last month.

Carney said President Barack Obama’s focus is making sure that women employed by Catholic church-affiliated employers like hospitals, colleges or charities are able to get contraception. At the same time, Carney said Obama wants to respect religious beliefs and convictions.

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