Reproductive rights groups are angry with the Obama administration after its decision to appeal a court order that lifted the age limits of the morning after pill, known as Plan B.
Plan B has long been a point of contention between women’s reproductive rights groups and pro-life groups, especially now that more scientific evidence has emerged showing its harmless effects on women or existing pregnancies.
Due to the studies showing Plan B’s harmlessness, the FDA decided on Tuesday to lower the age at which people are allowed to purchase the drug from 17 to 15, and also decided it could be sold on shelves, not over the counter. Obama, however, overturned the decision on the age limits, inevitably stirring up an already politically-charged issue.
“We are profoundly disappointed. This appeal takes away the promise of all women having timely access to emergency contraception," said Susannah Baruch, Interim President and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, in a statement late Wednesday.
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The decision comes on the heels of an increasingly confusing legal battle, after U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in New York demanded the FDA life all age restrictions on the drug. The Justice Department then filed an appeal to overturn Korman’s order, saying he overstepped his authority as a judge.
Despite Obama’s insistence that women should be able to make their own decisions about health, he did campaign on the principle that adolescent girls should not have complete access to emergency contraceptives. Though most of the Democratic base disagrees, Obama upheld his re-election promise limit adolescent access.
According to the journal Pediatrics, most 17-to-19-year-olds are sexually active, as are 30 percent of 15- and 16-year-olds. Teen pregnancies are much more likely in older teens, but the study did count 110,000 pregnancies in the 15- and 16-year-old group in 2008.