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A federal court ruled on Monday that the Food and Drug
Administration must make Plan B emergency contraception (a/k/a the
"morning-after pill") available over-the-counter to 17 year olds within 30
days, and must reconsider making the drug available without a prescription to
females of all ages. Currently, Plan B is available without a prescription to
women 18 and over.
Nancy Mosher, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, applauded the court's decision, noting: "Research shows that increased access to contraception does not increase or
encourage sexual activity among teens."
important than the expansion of access is what the decision says about the
conduct of the FDA under the Bush Administration - and what it suggests about
the future of that agency, and others, now that Barack Obama is president. In
the early 2000s, when the FDA debated emergency-contaception access, many
observers suggested that right-wing ideology and politics were exerting too much influence
over what should have been a science-based decision. Now, those critics have the
law on their side.
political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for
decision-making are not the only evidence of a lack of good faith and reasoned
agency decision-making," New York U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman wrote
in the decision. "Indeed, the record is clear that the FDA's course of
conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal
procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug from prescription to
encouraged by this decision, which is a victory for science and medicine over
politics," says Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, which advocates
for women's reproductive rights. "This is a welcome change from the recent past,
when "the Bush Administration's FDA subjugated women's health to political and
religious beliefs and ideology."