FDA to Remove Age Limit on Plan B

Disclaimer: This post is being brought over to my current blog from my previous site, so it isn’t as up-to-date as the other issues I will be publishing. 

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to remove the age limit on the morning after pill.Plan B, emergency contraception taken in the event of failed birth control, has so far been available to women aged 17 years and older over the counter, but anyone younger must have their doctor write a prescription, which can be tricky as Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse to lower the risk of pregnancy. It functions by releasing high doses of the hormones in birth control pills to prevent ovulation, fertilization, or the implementation of a fertilized egg into the uterine wall.

morning-pillAccording to Judge Korman, the FDA has 30 days to comply with the order (less, as of today), meaning that women and girls of any age could have easier access to all brands of Plan B within this month. This is fantastic not only for young women, but for women of all ages who have trouble getting Plan B. Specifically, this ruling has the ability to seriously aid immigrant women, who don’t have government issued identification to purchase the morning after pill. Plan B is only for sale at health clinics and pharmacies, but some pharmacists have had the inclination to illegally restrict access to consumers because of their personal morals.

The age limit was established in December of 2011 when Kathleen Sebelius forced the agency to restrict access. It was widely seen as a move to protect President Obama’s administration from appearing to promote sexual activity in young girls. There was a lot of backlash from supporters of all-age access who said it denied clear scientific evidence that the pill was safe and effective for females, regardless of age. Korman’s current ruling states that Sebelius’ actions were “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent.”

The current lawsuit against the agency was renewed by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Nancy Northrup, the CEO, commented that it is “a true victory for all women, especially young women.” While it is still possible for the government to file an appeal, the decision itself is landmark. There are, of course, anti-abortion groups protesting the decision because of the erroneous belief that Plan B induces abortions and miscarriages. And Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has claimed that the decision will only make young girls more available to sexual predators and will hinder parents’ ability to protect their children. But I, personally, don’t care what Dierdre McQuade thinks. And I’m pretty sure that the girls who desperately need access to Plan B don’t either. Cheers.

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