NEW YORK (WITI) — A federal judge in New York overturned an Obama administration directive on the morning-after pill. The judge called the FDA rule against selling the pill to anyone under 17 “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
Plan B is emergency contraception meant to be taken within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. The drug doesn’t terminate pregnancy like RU-486, commonly called the “abortion pill.” Instead, it is meant to prevent pregnancy by using a higher dosage of birth control taken within three days of unprotected sex.
The emotional debate over access to the morning-after pill stretches back almost a decade, when the Bush administration refused to allow women of any age to obtain it over the counter.
In 2006, Bush’s FDA eventually ordered Plan B to be made readily available to women 18 years and older. Shortly after Obama took office, it was lowered to 17 and older.
However, that wasn’t enough for the Center for Reproductive Rights — a group that has argued for years that the drug should be widely available to all women, so they pursued the case further, and the FDA agreed. In December 2011, Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement that Plan B “is safe and effective and should be approved for non-prescription use for all females of child-bearing potential.”
On the very same day in an unprecedented move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her, keeping the age at 17, and heading into the campaign season, President Obama agreed.
Now, 18 months later, Federal District Court Judge Edward Korman called Sebelius’ decision “politically motivated.” He ordered the FDA to remove the age limits to make the drug available to all Americans in the next 30 days.
The Justice Department has indicated it’s considering an appeal of the ruling.