Morning-After Pill for Teenagers Waits for Federal Judge’s Ruling
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, accompanied by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Philadelphia on Feb. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
A U.S. district court judge is expected to issue a ruling in the next few days on whether the Food and Drug Administration should make emergency contraception available over the counter for all women and girls of child-bearing potential.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius upset women’s health advocates in December 2011 when she overruled an FDA recommendation that the Plan B One-step, or the morning-after pill, be sold over the counter without age restrictions. Currently, the pill is only available behind the counter to women 17 years and older, or with a prescription for those who are younger.
Following Sebelius’ controversial decision, the FDA rejected a citizens’ petition filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights to lift the age restrictions on all levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception and sell it on regular pharmacy shelves. The group then challenged Sebelius and the FDA in a U.S. district court, arguing that both decisions were based on politics rather than the sound recommendations of the scientific and medical communities.
“Politics has completely interfered with the process,” said Janet Crepps, senior counsel for CRR. “The medical people within FDA said there was enough evidence to allow emergency contraception to be made available completely over the counter without restrictions, but [Sebelius] came back and said there was insufficient evidence to support making it available to younger minors. If you look at the reasoning, it doesn’t hold up.”