The Obama administration has announced that it will drop its opposition to a federal court ruling that makes “morning after” contraceptive pills available over-the-counter without a prescription and with no age limitations. The ruling means that girls of any age will be able to purchase the contraceptive without parental consent. The “emergency” contraceptive, designed to be taken within 72 hours after a woman has sex, is known by pro-life activists as the “abortion pill” because of evidence that it can cause spontaneous abortion in women who take it by preventing a newly conceived embryo from implanting in the uterine wall.
The original decision making the oral contraceptive available to underage girls came in April from U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, who ruled that a decision, made in 2011 by Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius, to keep the pills out of the hands of girls under age 17 was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.” Korman is the same judge who ordered that the “morning after” contraceptives be made available without a prescription to women 17 and older. Previously, they had been available over-the-counter only to girls 18 and older.
The Obama administration's Justice Department had been making a show of fighting implementation of the ruling, but, as reported by the New York Times, announced June 10 “that it would accept its losses in recent court rulings and begin putting into effect a judge’s order to have the Food and Drug Administration certify the drug for nonprescription use. In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands.” According to the Times, the Justice Department “appears to have concluded that it might lose its case with the appeals court and would have to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. That would drastically elevate the debate over the politically delicate issue for Mr. Obama.”
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Photo of Barack Obama: AP Images