US court has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make emergency contraceptive pill available to girls without a prescription,overturning a 2011 Obama administration decision restricting access to the drug for girls under age 17.
The ruling in a Brooklyn court,New York,yesterday is the latest step in the years- long legal saga over the pill known as “Plan B”,a drug that has also sparked political and religious battles.
The order reverses a surprise December 2011 decision by US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who had barred girls under 17 from buying the ills without a prescription. The FDA had initially decided to approve over-the-counter sales with no age limits,but Sebelius ordered it to reverse course.
The White House quickly weighed in to say it still believed in its “common-sense” approach even after the judge’s ruling. . White House Press Secretary,Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
“I think it’s important to remember,however,that the (Health) Secretary’s decision in this matter was not about whether Plan B would be available to women,but rather whether it should be available over the counter to girls of all ages without consulting with a health care professional,” he said.
“The Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius made the decision she made,which the President viewed as a very common-sense decision,one that he as a parent and other parents,he believed,would agree was a common-sense solution,” he said. The court’s order was criticized by many organizations.
“The morning-after pill contains 40 times the dosage of Levonorgestrel,the same drug used in other forms of birth control. Our young girls do not need to be part of this ‘social experiment’ on their bodies in the name of politics. It makes no sense that kids need parental permission to take aspirin at school but they’re free to take and buy Plan B.
We call on the FDA to appeal the ruling and we are confident it will be overturned,” Penny Nance,CEO and president of Concerned Women for America (CWA),said. Deirdre McQuade,spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Pro Life Activities said Plan B is a large dose of a powerful hormonal drug (levonorgestrel) that is available only by prescription when used in smaller doses for contraception. “The court has acted irresponsibly by making this powerful drug available without a prescription to minor children,” she said.
“Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease,but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators. The court’s action undermines parents’ ability to protect their daughters from such exploitation and from the adverse effects of the drug itself,” she said.
However,the US Senator Frank Lautenberg today praised the order. “The decision increasing over-the-counter access to Plan B is great news for women and families everywhere. By making emergency contraception more widely available,women will have timely access to a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancies,” he said.