The federal government has backed down from its previous position that only women 15 or older could purchase emergency contraception without prescriptions, and told a judge that it will comply with his order that girls of any age should have access to it. This includes Plan B, the one-step form of the pill, whereas recently a judge had only been able to clear the way for a generic, two-day version for all ages.
President Barack Obama’s administration had argued that there needed to be age limits for the morning-after pill, taking the stance that some young girls aren’t able to properly and effectively administer the drug to themselves without the aid of a health expert.
But women’s rights groups had argued the opposite, and a federal judge agreed with them. He’d ruled that the feds couldn’t put an age limit on the drug and that all women should immediately be able to purchase it on pharmacy shelves. The administration had been in the process of appealing that decision.
That is, until yesterday, when the Department of Justice notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman that it will submit a plan detailing its compliance with his ruling. If the judge gives the okay, the DOJ will drop its appeal, reports the Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with labeling that would outline that the pill be sold “without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions.” Once that’s done, the FDA says it will approve it quickly.
Both sides are now reacting to the ruling, with advocates for girls’ and women’s rights applauding the reversal of the feds’ position.
The lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over the unrestricted access to the pill and coordinator of the National Women’s Liberation says females of all ages should have “the absolute right to control our bodies without having to ask a doctor or a pharmacist for permission.”
“It’s about time that the administration stopped opposing women having access to safe and effective birth control,” she said in an emailed statement.
Meanwhile, the director of the Family Research council is displeased with the administration’s decision to drop its appeal.
“We’re very concerned and disappointed at the same time because what we see here is the government caving to political pressure instead of putting first the health and safety of girls (and) parental rights,” said the director of the council’s Center for Human Dignity.
Feds: All girls to have morning-after pill access [Associated Press]