It took 12 years and a lawsuit, but the Plan B One-Step pill and its generic versions must be available over-the-counter within 30 days. Federal Judge Edward Korman ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must lift sale restrictions on the pill for all ages, including for girls under 17 years of age.
Up to now girls 16 and under were required to have a doctor’s prescription to obtain the medication. That circumstance followed a ruling by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius restricting the age for purchase of the pill without a prescription. Her ruling was unprecedented since the FDA has been recommending for years that sale of the pill be unrestricted. In 2011, the FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, stated that after years of testing, the Plan B pill was found safe for use by all ages. But the Obama Administration refused to relent.
Other groups in addition to the FDA have long supported unrestricted availability of the morning after pill, including The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association. They argued that pregnancy for teens carries far greater risks than the use of a safe pill to prevent pregnancy.
Judge Korman, in his ruling, said that the federal government acted in “bad Faith” and found the obstructive actions to be politically motivated. He further called the government’s action “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
The Justice Department is reviewing the ruling to determine whether it will appeal.
Rosemary Agonito’s latest book is Hypocrisy, Inc.: How the Religious Right Fabricates Christian Values and Undermines Democracy.