Teens Can't Get Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception

| by Reason Foundation

By Ronald Bailey


Under the Bush administration, the FDA ruled that only women over the age of 18 could have access to Plan B emergency contraception without a prescription. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the FDA in 2005 in federal district court arguing that the FDA's limitations were arbitrary and should be overturned. Last year, Judge Edward Korman agreed that the agency had acted in "bad faith and in response to political pressure," and ordered the FDA to allow 17 year-olds access to the drug within 30 days and to reconsider the substantial body of scientific evidence that suggests that most teenage females could safely use the drug.

The FDA has so far ignored the judge's order. Consequently, the Center has announced that it has filed a motion for contempt against the Food and Drug Administration for failing to follow the court's order regarding access to emergency contraception for women of all ages. The Center's press release notes:

“The FDA has had ample time, countless opportunities, and overwhelming scientific evidence put before it to make a decision on Plan B,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The President promised that his administration would reverse the Bush policy of politics trumping science. But when it comes to emergency contraception, it's a new administration playing the same old games." ...

“All of the scientific facts are there and FDA experts agree – emergency contraception has proven safe and effective to be sold over-the-counter to all ages,” said Suzanne Novak, lead counsel in the case.  “It’s time for the FDA to stop the stonewalling, follow the science, and make emergency contraception available without a prescription to women of all ages.”

Right next to the condom display.

See my column, "Safety, Efficacy, and Morality," on the FDA's initial mishandling of emergency contraception.

Disclosure: A while back I made a small donation to the Center for Reproductive Rights.