HHS Says No to Teens Buying Plan B Without Prescription

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 7, 2011   |   2:17PM   |   Washington, DC

In a rare move, the Health and Human Services Department overruled a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to make the morning after pill available to teenagers without a prescription.

The Obama administration was examining the possibility of selling the morning after pill to teenagers and the FDA had until today to respond to a request from the maker of the Plan B drug to sell it on the shelves and not behind the pharmacist’s counter. However, although the FDA initially approved the decision, the HHS department overruled it.

The FDA has already taken the health and safety of women out of the hands of doctors. 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.

Now, according to the Washington Post, FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg said she had approved selling the morning after pill to kids but said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected the decision.

“I agree … there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” Hamburg said. “However, this morning I received a memorandum from the Secretary of Health and Human Services invoking her authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to execute its provisions and stating that she does not agree with the Agency’s decision to allow the marketing of Plan B One-Step nonprescription for all females of child-bearing potential.”

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 is shocking given that the Obama administration how kowtowed to the abortion industry in every other area since Obama was elected in 2008 and this marks the first time Obama has crossed pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL that lobbied for approval of selling the rug to minors without a doctor’s prescription.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family research Council, was one of many pro-life advocates who opposed the move — in part because they worry underage girls who become victims of sexual abuse would have their abusers use the drug to cover up their crimes.

“The average age of sexual trafficking victims in the U.S. is between 13 and 14. There’s a real danger that Plan B would be given to women (especially sexually abused women and minors) under coercion or without their consent,” Perkins said. “Interaction with medical professionals is a major screening and defense mechanism for victims of sexual abuse. If the FDA chooses to make Plan B available over-the-counter, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of women’s health. Obviously, politics–not reason or science–would be the motivating factor for a decision like this.”

“Not too long ago, the Obama FDA adopted a so-called compromise policy on the sales of Plan B. As it stands, girls under the age of 17 need a prescription for the drug which, according to its own packaging label, can act as an abortifacient,” Perkins said. “The compromise, which provides some protections for underage girls, is apparently too restrictive to the promiscuous, pro-abortion policies of this administration.”

“If the FDA removes the age limit, it will defy good public health sense. Young people under the age of 25 are infected with half of the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) nationwide,” he said before today’s decision. “Making Plan B available over-the-counter would bypass the necessary and routine medical care of sexually active girls and women, which helps screen for health conditions like sexually transmitted diseases. What’s more, a study published last year showed that in England a public health program that encouraged use of Plan B in teens actually led to an increased STD rate in adolescents.”

Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council, told the Post the morning after pill can work as an abortion drug if it prevents a newly-conceived unborn child from implanting and continuing pregnancy.

“It’s not a drug that prevents life — it’s a drug that destroys life,” said Monahan. “If we define life as beginning at fertilization or conception, then this drug can be an abortifacient.”

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.