Morning-after pill to be made available to 17-year-olds, U.S. federal judge rules

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A federal judge ruled Monday that the controversial morning-after pill Plan B must be made available without a prescription to girls as young as 17, citing the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) willingness to concede to the Bush administration's conservative influences by setting the age limit to 18 in 2006.

Plan B, available in the United States since 1999, consists of two pills designed to prevent conception and must be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. Only since 2006 has it been available without a prescription, following lobbying from the World Health Organization and American Medical Association. Currently the drug is only available without a prescription to women over the age of 18.

The lawsuit was filed in 2005 by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In the ruling, the judge blasted the FDA for giving in to "political considerations" and delaying approval of the new age limit.

Susan F. Wood, former director of women's health at the FDA, resigned in 2005 in protest over the agency's handling of the drug.

“What happened with Plan B demonstrated that the agency was off track, and was not being allowed to do its job properly,” she said.

The Family Research Council, a conservative organization, said the judge had given in to "political ideology promoting sexual license for teens."

The FDA says it is reviewing the ruling, which it has thirty days to comply with.


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