Obama talks about birth control at the Vatican

President Obama on Thursday said he pledged to Vatican officials to "strike the right balance" between ensuring that women receive the health care coverage they're entitled to under the Affordable Care Act and ensuring that religious freedoms are protected.

The president met separately Thursday at the Vatican with Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In a press conference later with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Mr. Obama said that he and the pope "we actually didn't' talk a whole lot about social schisms."

  • President Obama meets Pope Francis at Vatican
  • Hobby Lobby case fires up women, conservatives on Supreme Court
  • Yet in his meeting with Cardinal Parolin, Mr. Obama said they "discussed briefly the issue of making sure that conscience and religious freedom was observed in the context of applying the law."

    The discussions come two days after arguments at the Supreme Court over the new Obamacare rule requiring large employers to provide their workers with comprehensive health coverage, which includes birth control, or pay a fine.

    Mr. Obama said he explained to the cardinal that most religious entities are exempt from the rule while groups with religious affiliations, such as Catholic universities, can get exemptions as well.

    The issue, however, "was not really a topic of conversation" with the Pope, Mr. Obama said, adding that the two leaders had a "wide-ranging discussion" that focused on achieving peace in areas of the world like the Middle East, as well as helping the poor and the marginalized.

    "As someone who came from Latin America, I think he was mindful of the plight of so many immigrants," Mr. Obama said.