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Feminist group to Obama administration: Lift all age restrictions on morning after pill

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The Food and Drug Administration’s announcement on Tuesday that the morning after pill will now be available without a prescription to women as young as 15 “does not go far enough,” according to the National Organization for Women.

“Yesterday’s ruling by the FDA to restrict access to Plan B One Step to those 15 years and older does not go far enough to allow access to emergency contraception to women of all ages,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said in a statement Wednesday. “Millions of women need access to this safe and effective product, and the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, particularly in adolescents, should not be obstructed by paternalistic politicking.”

“Studies have proven that emergency contraception is a safe and effective method of preventing unwanted pregnancies — and therefore abortions,” she added.

The FDA announced Tuesday that Plan B One-Step will now be labeled with “not for sale to those under 15 years of age *proof of age required* not for sale where age cannot be verified,” and that it will generally be available in family planning or female health aisles.

“NOW calls on the Obama administration to comply with the federal court order issued April 5 by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman, making Plan B One Step available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription, and without identification. Requiring women to show proper documentation will hinder a very vulnerable group of women from purchasing this crucial medication — including adolescents and low-income women,” O’Neill added.

The NOW president went on to assert that NOW activists will continue to work for “reproductive justice and defeat the forces that play politics with women’s lives.”

The FDA said Tuesday that the decision to lower the age restrictions from 17 and older to 15 and older was not a response to Korman’s ruling, but the approval of a separate application by Teva Women’s Health, Inc. to market Plan B One-Step to women as young as 15 years old.

“Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement Tuesday. “The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.”

According to the FDA, the Justice Department is considering the next steps as it pertains to Korman’s April 5 ruling.

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