U.S. To Allow Girls Of Any Age To Buy Morning-After Pill Over The Counter
President Barack Obama's administration has reversed its stance on a politically sensitive issue in America - emergency contraception.
The U.S. government now says it will go along with a judge's ruling to allow women and girls of any age to get the morning-after pill over the counter.
For the past two months, the administration had fought against an April court order to make the drug more widely available. But it has now decided to drop its appeal.
That means anyone, including young girls, will soon be able to buy the Plan B morning-after pill without a prescription.
For supporters of the decision, it's an important victory in a 12-year battle to make emergency contraception universally available.
Annie Tummino is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over access to the morning-after pill and chair of the National Women's Liberation Birth Control Project.
In an email to the Associated Press, she said "It's about time that the administration stopped opposing women having access to safe and effective birth control."
She added that women and girls should have "the absolute right to control our bodies without having to ask a doctor or a pharmacist for permission."
Under current laws, only girls aged 15 and older can buy the morning-after pill without a prescription.
However in April, U.S. district judge Edward Korman ruled the drug should be sold over-the-counter with no age restrictions - saying the government's effort to block sales was "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent."
The U.S. justice department has sent the judge a letter saying they'll put together a plan to comply with the ruling. If he approves it, the government will officially scrap its appeal.
As AP reports...
According to the department's letter to the judge, the Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with proposed labeling that would permit it to be sold "without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions." The FDA said that once it receives the application it "intends to approve it promptly."
That hasn't gone over well with opponents of the contraception plan.
"We're very concerned and disappointed at the same time because what we see here is the government caving to political pressure instead of putting first the health and safety of girls (and) parental rights," said Anna Higgins, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity - an anti-abortion group.
In 2011, the FDA was prepared to allow the morning-after pill to be sold over the counter to girls of any age.
But the U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over-ruled her own scientists, and banned girls under 17 from buying it without a prescription.
The FDA dropped the age limit to 15 in April of this year.
In Canada, girls of any age can get the morning-after pill. It's available over the counter in every province and territory, except Saskatchewan and Quebec.
In Saskatchewan, you have to see a pharmacist as the pill is kept behind the pharmacy counter. In Quebec, you need a prescription from a doctor.
The morning-after pill contains the same active ingredients as regular birth control pills but at higher doses and is designed to prevent ovulation or fertilization of an egg.
If it's taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, condom failure, or rape, it can reduce the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 per cent - although it works best within the first 24 hours.
If a girl or woman already is pregnant, the pill has no effect.
Edit: For Mjeezy! xo