Digital News Report– A federal judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to let 17-year-olds to obtain Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that is also known as “the morning after pill.” Currently the pill is available to anyone over the age of 18, but younger women need a prescription to get it. U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman made the decision, which gives the FDA 30 days to make the pill available to 17-year-olds.
“Barriers like a prescription requirement, which delay access to Plan B, may needlessly increase the chances that 17-year-olds will suffer unwanted pregnancies,” wrote Korman. He noted there appeared to be “political considerations, delays and implausible justifications” in the decision-making process.
If taken within three days of having sex, Plan B reduces the chance of pregnancy. It prevents ovulation or fertilization and interfers with implantation of a fertilized egg. The pill worked best if taken within 24 hours. Korman did not lift the ban on the pill for all ages, as there have not been conclusive studies on the safety of Plan B for younger teens.
The ruling came from a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Center for Reproductive Rights after the FDA denied a petition asking them to make Plan B available without a prescription to all women. One person in the lawsuit claimed that Plan B should be available to her 13-year-old daughter.
“The court recognized that the FDA favored politics over science, ideology over women’s health, and violated the law in the process,” Nancy Northrup, who is the president of the Center that filed the lawsuit. “Emergency contraception is proven safe and effective, and today we have succeeded in expanding access to 17-year-olds and are one step closer to making it fully available to all women,” she said.
A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office that represented the FDA in the suit stated that the ruling is being reviewed.