Axelrod: Obama birth control fight was unwanted

A top campaign adviser to President Obama said Wednesday the recent announcement and subsequent backtracking on forcing religiously-affiliated institutions to provide birth control to employees for free was not designed to pick a fight with social conservatives.

"We were not looking to create divisions. We were looking to advance the cause of women's health and I think we have done that and we have done it in the appropriate way," David Axelrod said in an interview with "CBS This Morning."

"I think that a vast majority of Americans, that's also reflected in your poll, support the notion that women should have, all women should have access to basic preventative care, including contraception. So, you know, I think there is strong support for that. I think the president handled it in a sensitive way, taking into consideration those concerns that were raised by the leaders of the Catholic Church," Axelrod said.

About 61 percent of Americans support federally-mandated contraception coverage for religiously-affiliated employers; 31 percent oppose such coverage, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted between Feb. 8-13, and released Tuesday.

Mr. Obama announced Friday that the government will not force religiously-affiliated institutions such as schools, charities and hospitals to directly provide birth control coverage as part of their employees' health care coverage, in the wake of an uproar from religious leaders over the administration's original language surrounding the regulation.