Obama asks to deliver commencement speech at New York women's college

President Obama will address the graduates of Barnard College at this year's commencement, The Hill has confirmed.

Obama will deliver the keynote address at the women's college in New York on May 14.

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The White House called the college in recent days and offered up Obama as the commencement speaker and the college promptly accepted. Originally, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was set to address the graduates before the White House called the college.

The president and his fellow Democrats have made women a focus of their campaigns of late.

Obama recently found himself in the middle of a contraception debate, after his administration issued a rule requiring health insurers — including some religious organizations such as charities and hospitals — to cover contraception without a co-pay. 

After an outcry from religious leaders, he offered a compromise with what he called a more "sensible approach," which did not satisfy all the critics.

"Whether you're a teacher...or a nurse or a janitor, no woman's health should depend on who she is of where she works or how much money she makes," Obama said when announcing his administration's revised policy. "Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period."

On Friday, the president waded deeper into the controversy, when he called to offer his support for Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student targeted by Rush Limbaugh for her testimony in defense of the administration's policy.

Obama told Fluke she had been the subject of “inappropriate personal attacks” after Limbaugh referred to her as a “slut” and a “prostitute” during his show.

A White House official told The New York Times, which first reported the story Saturday, that "as the father of two daughters, President Obama wanted to speak to some of America's next generation of women leaders."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actress Meryl Streep and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were all commencement speakers in recent years.


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