Federal Judge Stands By Ruling: "Morning After" Pill for All Ages

By:  Jack Kenny
Federal Judge Stands By Ruling: "Morning After" Pill for All Ages

A federal judge Friday turned down a request by government lawyers to suspend his decision that the "morning after" contraceptive pill be available for the over-the counter purchase by girls of any age.


Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York rejected as "frivolous" and "silly" the U.S. Department of Justice request for a delay pending an appeal of his April 5 ruling against any age limit on the availability of the drug, called Plan B One Step. As in his April ruling, Korman was harshly critical of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for imposing a minimum age of 17 for purchase of the pill.

"If a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail — thus justifiably undermining the public's confidence in the drug approval process," the judge wrote.

Yet according to the New York Times, Judge Korman himself had set the age limit at 17. The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill as a prescription-only drug in 1999, and two years later the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a citizens' petition for it to be available without a prescription. The FDA turned down the petition, but in 2006, the George W. Bush administration approved over-the-counter sales for women 18 or older. Korman ruled in 2009 that Plan B must be available without prescription for those 17 and older.

Sebelius in 2011 overruled an FDA decision to allow sale of the drug without a prescription to anyone regardless of age. The HHS secretary reimposed the age 17 requirement that Korman struck down last month, calling it "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." The action by Sebelius, the judge ruled, was "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent."

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