The Obama Administration has dropped its legal battle against a judge’s decision that would allow young girls to purchase the Plan B morning after pill over the counter.
The decision allows anyone to purchase the drug and opponents of the decision say it paves the way for male sexual predators to purchase the drug for girls they victimize, by removing safeguards currently in place.
Previously, the Justice Department appealed a court ruling saying the morning after pill known as Plan B should be available without a prescription for teenagers starting at age 15. Late Monday, the Obama administration said it would stop fighting a court order requiring it to remove all age restrictions on the sale of Plan B One-Step without a prescription.
The Obama administration aid in a letter to the judge, Edward R. Korman, that it “is voluntarily withdrawing its appeal in this matter.”
The Planned Parenthood abortion business applauded the decision.
“This is a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity,” PPFA President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “The FDA’s decision will make emergency contraception available on store shelves, just like condoms, and women of all ages will be able to get it quickly in order to prevent unintended pregnancy.”
The administration’s sudden reversal is drawing strong opposition from pro-life groups.
Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America told LifeNews: “Though President Obama himself has said ‘as the father of two daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,’ his administration has abandoned common sense and will allow our nation’s teens and young girls to have access to a highly powerful drug forty times stronger than birth control. I sincerely fear for the future health and wellness of women and children, as doctors, parents, and pharmacists are eliminated from this very serious conversation about sexual activity, pregnancy, fertility, and overall health.”
Janice Crouse, also of CWFA, responded: “Once again, those who yell the loudest about caring about the nation’s children and youth applaud a decision to place our kids in a special interest experiment. Plan B, popularly called the ‘morning-after pill’ is a much-higher-dosage version of the regular birth control pill (which used to require a doctor’s prescription and continued doctor’s supervision). It is irresponsible to advocate over-the-counter use of these high-potency drugs, which would make them available to anyone – including those predators who exploit young girls. Mark my words, it will not be long before we see girls and women forced to purchase Plan B for their abuser to keep them and others enslaved. This is a pimp, predator, and pedophile’s dream – unlimited access to Plan B.”
She added: “This is a political decision, made by those who stand to profit financially from an action that puts ideology ahead of the nation’s girls and young women. Where is the scientific data and solid reasoning behind a decision that endangers minors?”
Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America also weighed in on the decision.
She told LifeNews: “President Obama is waging a War on Girls by allowing young children to get Plan B without a physician or parent’s care or knowledge. The morning after pill is a megadose of the birth-control pill, which has been categorized by the World Health Organization as a Group I carcinogen. That’s the highest possible ranking – cigarettes are also in Group I. So why are drugstores required to put cigarettes behind the counter and ask for a photo id to stop minors from purchasing them, but President Obama is now ordering the morning after pill be sold over the counter, next to candy bars and packs of gum? This is not reproductive justice, this is child abuse.”
Previously, the Plan B morning after pill was only available over the counter to women above the age of 17. The Food and Drug Administration sought to make the drug available more widely but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the decision.
Some pro-life groups have pointed to comments from the maker of the drug and studies to show that the morning after pill can act as an abortion agent in some cases, terminating the life of a unique human being hours after conception.
Judge Edward Korman, a federal judge based in New York City, heard 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.
During the hearing, Korman was highly critical of the government’s handling of the issue when he ordered the FDA in 2009 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.”’
In comments to LifeNews, the Family Research Council slammed the decision.
Anna Higgins, J.D., director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, expressed serious concerns regarding a federal judge’s order today that the “morning-after” pill be available to girls of all ages without a prescription.
“This ruling places the health of young girls at risk. Making Plan B available for girls under the age of 17 without a prescription flies in the face of medical information and sound judgment. I am very troubled that the court has not fully taken into account the concerns expressed by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and many public health advocates that there is not enough data on the health effects of Plan B on young girls,” she said.
“According to the new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control, there were 19,700,000 new STIs reported in 2008 – the last year for which numbers are available. Based on the CDC’s estimates, that brings the total number of STIs in the U.S. to just over 110 million. Most of the new cases crop up in young men and women aged 15-25. Making Plan B available over-the-counter for any age will put many of these young girls at further risk because it circumvents necessary medical screening for sexually active girls,” she told LifeNews.
“There is a real danger that Plan B may be given to young girls, under coercion or without their consent. The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today’s ruling removes these commonsense protections,” concluded Higgins.
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.
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.
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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.