THE federal Food and Drug Administration says morning-after contraceptives are safe, including for adolescent girls. The drugs should be made available over the counter and without age restrictions.
The Obama administration disagrees. It is contesting U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman’s ruling last month that Plan B One-Step, and its generic versions, be available to anyone of reproductive age without a prescription.
Administration officials should read the judge’s decision more closely, particularly the part where they are lambasted for choosing political expediency over science.
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The FDA was on pace to remove restrictions on over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pills. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the rare step of overruling the FDA in 2011. The drug’s maker was banned from selling pills to girls under 16 without a prescription.
That decision, coming in an election season, appeared based on an electoral calculus rather than the reproductive health of women and young girls.
Soon after, the Obama administration found itself on the receiving end of kudos from conservative groups opposed to emergency contraception.
The president’s search for middle ground in the caustic emergency-contraception/abortion debate should not threaten the health and well-being of women and girls.
The administration does not appear to have a quarrel with the FDA’s science. Justice Department lawyers are expected to argue that the federal judge did not have the authority to tell the FDA what to do with the drug, according to The New York Times.
Access to morning-after contraceptives is not likely to increase the likelihood of teens having sex. Some adults may not like to think that some teenagers are sexually active. But morning-after contraceptives could protect them from an unwanted pregnancy or the trauma of an abortion.
The pills must be widely accessible and with as few obstacles as possible.