by Steven Ertelt
August 25, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — It’s not enough for leading abortion advocates that the Food and Drug Administration approved sales of the morning after pill over the counter for women above the age of 18. Pro-abortion groups want the agency to lift the age restriction and all unfettered sales to teenagers without a doctor’s prescription as well.
"While we are glad to know the FDA finally ended its foot-dragging on this issue, Planned Parenthood is troubled by the scientifically baseless restriction imposed on teenagers," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said.
"The U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the Western world," she added. "Anything that makes it harder for teenagers to avoid unintended pregnancy is bad medicine and bad public policy."
However, a White House representative told the Associated Press she was sure the agency would keep the limits in place.
"I’m sure the FDA will follow through on that and make sure these important conditions are established and enforced," she indicated.
The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York based law firm, has already filed suit against the drug agency to lift all age limits on the use of the morning after pill. That means the courts may end up making the final decision on whether teenagers can purchase the Plan B pills as well.
Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, said the age restrictions need more enforcement, not less.
“If the FDA thinks that enacting an age restriction will work, or that the drug company will enforce it when it has already announced it has no intention of enforcing it, then they are living in a dream world," Wright said.
"Enforcement requires a penalty for violating the restriction," Wright explained. "The FDA has no authority or ability to enforce an age restriction, and Barr, the Plan B drug maker, has neither the ability nor the willingness."
Wright also said that Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates were given certain restrictions by the FDA on the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, but that those haven’t been followed.
"Those restrictions have never been followed, women have died, yet no one has been punished nor the drug approval pulled,” said Wright.
She also worries that a parent, older sibling or other relative or older friends could purchase the morning after pill for young teens, avoiding the requirement that they visit a doctor first before using the drug.
Wright said selling the morning after pill over the counter will make it easier for men who abuse young women to cover up their crimes.
"Any adult male who is having sex with a minor could walk into a pharmacy, buy the drug, and coax the girl into taking the pill," she said.
Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the Plan B drug, said it hopes to begin nonprescription sales of the drug in pharmacies by the end of the year. The drug company plans to conduct an extensive marketing campaign to promote sales of the morning after pill.
The pills will not be on shelves but sold from behind the pharmacy counter in order for pharmacists to check a photo identification and ensure the buyer is over 18 years-old.
Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a memo that the agency did not approve the drug for sales to teenagers because Barr had not provided enough information about how the morning after pill affects them.
He indicated that Barr provided sufficient data to show the morning after pill is safe for older teenagers and adults and he indicated pharmacies are used to checking to make sure a buyer is over 18 with tobacco and some other products.
Barr agreed to track how well pharmacists are enforcing the 18 and up rule as a condition of approving the drug for sales and it will do that by sending anonymous shoppers to buy it along with other methods. The company must track sales twice a year in the first year and annually thereafter.
Pharmacies that break the rules must be reported to state officials.
Bruce Downey, Barr’s chairman, said he was pleased with the decision but wished the FDA had approved the drug for sales to all women, including younger teens.
Nine states, including Washington, California, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont had already passed regulations allow sales of the morning after pill over the counter before the FDA acted.
They will still be the only states allowing women of any age — including younger teens — to buy the Plan B drug.