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Trump walks back Obama-era birth control mandate

The Trump administration announced Friday that an Obama-era requirement that employers cover birth control in their health insurance plans is being rolled back, effective immediately, The Hill reports. Employers, including universities and colleges, that have "sincerely held religious beliefs" or "moral convictions" against birth control will be exempt from covering contraceptives.

More than 55 million women had access to birth control without co-payments under former President Barack Obama's mandate. "The Trump administration acknowledges that this is a reversal of ... Obama's conclusion that the mandate was needed because the government had a compelling interest in protecting women's health," The New York Times writes. The Trump administration wrote that "application of the mandate to entities with sincerely held religious objections to it does not serve a compelling governmental interest."

The Trump administration also ruled that the Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require employers to cover birth control and cited risks associated with certain contraceptive methods, additionally claiming that the mandate could promote "risky sexual behavior" among teens and young adults, the Times writes.

Many women's health advocacy groups threatened to challenge the rollback if the Trump administration went through with it. "By taking away women's access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women," argued National Women's Law Center president and CEO Fatima Goss Graves.