The morning after pill won’t have age restrictions or require a prescription
After more twists than US 129 through Tennessee and North Carolina (famously nicknamed “The Dragon”), over-the-counter sales of Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive will be sold to women without a prescription and without age restrictions.
The decision comes after more than a decade of wrangling. Emergency contraceptives, also called morning-after pills, were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to prevent pregnancy if taken within three days of unprotected sex. But reproductive rights groups and antiabortion organizations have debated access issues for much of that time.
The FDA ignored a recommendation to make Plan B available OTC in 2003. Three years later the agency reversed itself, but only women 18 and older were allowed to buy the medication OTC. In 2009, U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ordered the FDA to lower the OTC age limit to 17. In 2011, the FDA stood ready to approve over-the-counter sales to adolescents younger than 17, but the agency was overruled by the Department of Health and Human Services. In April of this year, Korman ordered the FDA to make the contraceptive available over the counter to adolescents, but the FDA appealed.
Monday the Obama administration said it will comply with Korman’s order.
The move has been applauded by women’s rights advocates. “By making emergency contraception available to women of all ages, the FDA is taking an important step to reduce unintended pregnancies and put women in control of their futures,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue in a statement.