Nancy Keenan of NARAL has worked closely with pro-abortion President Barack Obama to advance abortion, but today’s decision by the Obama administration not to sell the morning after pill to teen girls without a prescription makes this the first time they have been at odds.
Keenan blasted the Obama administration in comments after the decision saying she disagreed with the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ decision to overrule a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration.
“Experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics long ago recommended that this emergency contraceptive medication be available for women of all ages,” Keenan said. “We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end. The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what’s in the best interest of women’s health. In short, this is a failure to deliver change.”
Keenan also blasted the “barrier” requiring those under 18 to get a prescription and find a pharmacist as unworkable.
“We expected this kind of action from the Bush administration, so it’s doubly disheartening and unacceptable that this administration chose to follow this path,” Keenan said. “We had a major opportunity to improve young women’s access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce the need for abortion, and the Obama administration missed the mark.”
NOW president Terry O’Neil called the decision a “stunning betrayal of women” saying “the Obama administration has sided with radical right politics in rejecting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove an age restriction on emergency contraception.”
“It is an unusual and infuriating move for the Obama administration to overrule that decision, especially at a time when rumors are flying that the president is on the brink of caving in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by expanding religiously affiliated employers’ ability to deny contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act,” she added.
HHS Secretary Sebelius said there was not enough information on who the drug affects teens to make the decision.
She said in a statement: “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.
The decision received praise from pro-life groups like the Family Research Council.
Jeanne Monahan, Director of Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, told LifeNews, “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.”
Human Life International President Father Shenan J. Boquet was surprised by the HHS decision.
“This is a surprising development, and a welcome one, but we remain very concerned about the fact that Secretary Sebelius is apparently standing by her very controversial decision to mandate contraception and sterilization coverage in all private health care plans under ObamaCare,” he said. “If this decision by Secretary Sebelius is truly about protecting the health of young women, then she will reconsider the HHS rule forcing private insurers and employers to pay for services to which they are diametrically opposed.”
“But, if this move is intended as a pragmatic one to alleviate concerns of those, such as the Catholic bishops, who are rightly concerned with her department’s activist promotion of contraception, then it will fail in its objective. The mandate must be reversed, and soon,” he said.