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Judge to Determine if Teens Can Buy Morning After Pill

by Steven Ertelt | New York, NY | LifeNews.com | 12/13/11 7:02 PM

National

A federal judge will determine whether or not teenagers can purchase the morning after pill without a prescription in a legal case that comes on the heels of the Obama administration deciding they should not.

Judge Edward Korman, a federal judge based in New York City, says he will hear arguments in a case filed by the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights over whether the FDA should have ultimately allowed teens to buy the Plan B drug without a doctor’s order. The pro-abortion group says such drugs are being held to a different standard than other drugs and that decisions are not based on science, but on politics.

The lawsuit is not a new one but was filed prior to the decision by the Obama administration last week to not allow sale of the morning after pill to teens.

During today’s hearing, the Associated Press indicated “Korman was highly critical of the government’s handling of the issue when he ordered the FDA two years ago to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication. At the time, he accused the government of letting “political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for decision-making” cloud the approval process.”

The FDA originally approved the morning after pill at the end of the Clinton administration in 1999 and, in 2006, it was approved for nonprescription use for women 18 and older. Previously, a federal court ordered the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider its decision preventing minors from purchasing the morning after pill without a prescription.

However, Sebelius said there was not enough information on how the drug affects teens to make the decision. She overturned a ruling by Food and Drug Administrator Margaret Hamburg to allow teens to purchase the morning after pill without a doctor’s involvement, even though the drug may cause an early abortion in some cases.

In a statement concerning her decision, Sebelius said, “The average age of the onset of menstruation for girls in the United States is 12.4 years. However, about ten percent of girls are physically capable of bearing children by 11.1 years of age. It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age. If the application were approved, the product would be available, without prescription, for all girls of reproductive age.”

“Because I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age, I have directed FDA to issue a complete response letter denying the supplemental new drug application (SNDA) by Teva Women’s Health, Inc,” Sebelius continued.

Obama defended the decision and said he wasn’t involved in making it.

Jeanne Monahan, Director of Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, told LifeNews after the decision: “A decision to make Plan B available for girls under the age of 17 without a prescription would not have been in the interest of young women’s health. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was right to reject the FDA recommendation to make this potent drug available over the counter to young girls. In her own words, the research submitted to the FDA did not include data for all ages for which the drug would be used.”

“Additionally, young people have approximately half of the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The availability of Plan B over-the-counter for all ages would have bypassed necessary routine medical care for sexually active girls. And a study released in 2010 revealed that adolescent use of Plan B was correlated with an increase in unplanned pregnancies and a high STD rate,” she said.

“There is also the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation. The average age of a girl who is sexually trafficked in the U.S. is 13 to 14. There is a real danger that Plan B could be given to young women, especially sexually abused minors, under coercion or without their consent. Interaction with medical professionals is a major screening and defense mechanism for victims of sexual abuse,” she continued. “Finally, Plan B can act in a way that can destroy life by preventing implantation. Women of all ages have the right to know how this drug may act in their bodies and on their newly developing babies.”

Abortion advocates have been up in arms and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards released a letter to demand a meeting with Sebelius and 14 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Sebelius to complain as well.

The morning after pill has done nothing to significantly curb the number of abortions.

Research from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former Planned Parenthood research arm, shows “54 percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method *usually condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.” These figures are similar to those of a report in Spain showing abortions doubling despite increased family planning promotion.

And, of the women who say they did not intend to become pregnant, the report said “most of these women have practiced contraception in the past.”

Meanwhile, a report from Planned Parenthood of Western Washington shows abortions are on the rise in Washington state even though it participated in Washington state’s Take Charge pilot program.

Take Charge is a Medicaid section 1115 Waiver program initiated in 2001 to provide free contraceptives to low-income women not already covered under Medicaid. It was originally funded for five years in 2001, then extended for three more years, and comes up for renewal in 2009. Yet the PPWW annual report indicates abortions rose 16 percent from 7,790 in 2006 to 9,059 in 2007.

The failure of birth control, the morning after pill, and contraception to lower the number of abortions is no surprise to Dr. Joseph Stanford, associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

He says studies he and fellow researchers have done show a lower effectiveness rate than the 89 percent that Plan B maker Barr Laboratories claims.

“We did more a precise meta-analysis that shows it’s effective only 72 percent of the time, and even that number is optimistic,” he indicated.

He said studies from Europe, China and the United States show that the morning after pill does not reduce abortions.