April 5, 2013
Judge Makes Morning After Pill Available To Girls Of All Ages
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A federal judge has decided to make the "morning after" emergency contraception pill available to all girls of reproductive age.
The judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make the pill available without a prescription to all girls. The order reverses a December 2011 decision by US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to limit the pill without prescription to women age 17 and older.
District Judge Edward Korman said the FDA's rejection of requests to remove age restriction was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." He also alleged that the secretary´s decision was politically motivated.
The decision means that unless the FDA appeals and is granted a stay, teenagers 16 and under will be able to walk into a pharmacy and buy the pill off the shelf starting next month.
"The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency's misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the FDA to engage in further delays and obstruction," Korman wrote in a statement.
The decision is sure to be controversial among groups, including the Family Research Council. According to Fox News, Anna Higgins of this organization said the morning pill presents a real danger to young girls.
"This ruling places the health of young girls at risk," Higgins told Fox News. "There is a real danger that Plan B may be given to young girls, under coercion or without their consent. The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today's ruling removes these commonsense protections."
Critics say Plan B is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. However, doctors say pregnancy doesn't begin until the egg implants itself into the wall of the uterus. Plan B prevents the fertilization of an egg, but has no affect if a woman is already pregnant. The pill can be taken within 72 hours of rape or situations in which contraception was not used.
Korman said even putting aside the motivation for the secretary's decision, the reasons she provided for her decision were so unpersuasive that it should "call into question her good faith."
"This decision gives the FDA the chance to reclaim its ability to make decisions based on science, medicine and evidence, not politics," FDA veteran Susan Wood told Reuters.
A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February said that more and more women in the US are taking Plan B. According to the CDC, there are nearly three times as many woman taking the contraceptive pill now than in 2002.