Obama defends HHS ‘betrayal’ of women over ‘Plan B’ birth control pill

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On Thursday President Barack Obama defended his administration’s 11th-hour decision to keep in place an age restriction on the sale of the “morning after” birth control pill.

Obama said that as a father of two daughters he believes the government should “apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.” The president added that he believed most parents felt the same way, but pointed out that he personally had no part in making the decision.

The president’s firm defense comes in the wake of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius publicly killing a request from Food and Drug Administration scientists to allow women and girls under 17 years old to purchase the so-called Plan B pill without a doctor’s prescription. Reuters reported that no health secretary had ever overruled the agency before.

The administration’s position has angered pro-choice leaders who have seen Obama as an ally in their work to preserve abortion rights.

The National Organization for Women called the decision a “betrayal” and accused Obama of playing politics.

“NOW calls on the president to stop playing politics with the lives of women and girls,” the group wrote in a statement. “During the Bush years, women’s reproductive health was under constant attack. We don’t need more of the same from the Obama administration.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America said the reversal was a “blow to sound science and young women’s health” and also invoked Obama’s predecessor in demonizing him.

“We expected this kind of action from the Bush administration, so it’s doubly disheartening and unacceptable that this administration chose to follow this path,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan. “We had a major opportunity to improve young women’s access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce the need for abortion, and the Obama administration missed the mark.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights similarly blasted the decision, reminding Obama that it had sued the Bush administration over a similar decision.

“Six years ago, we sued the Bush administration for rejecting science and playing politics with women’s health by denying emergency contraception for over-the-counter sale,” said Nancy Northup, the group’s president, in a statement. “We are stunned to see the same behavior from the Obama administration. It is unacceptable that the approval for drugs supporting women’s reproductive health is held to a completely different standard.”

While the abortion rights movement was predictably in an uproar, pro-lifers, long antagonistic to the Obama administration, were pleased by the news.

“A decision to make Plan B available for girls under the age of 17 without a prescription would not have been in the interest of young women’s health,” Jeanne Monahan, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, told LifeNews. “Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was right to reject the FDA recommendation to make this potent drug available over the counter to young girls.”

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