Justice Department appeals judge’s order to eliminate age restrictions on morning-after-pill

Font Size:

The Department of Justice is appealing a district judges’ order to eliminate all age restrictions on the purchase of Plan B, or the morning-after-pill, without a prescription.

The appeal late Wednesday followed a decision this week by the Food and Drug Administration to change the age restrictions on prescription-less Plan B purchases from 17 and older to just 15 and older. The agency said the decision was separate from the judge’s order.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered in early April the Obama administration make Plan B available to all women, regardless of age, without a prescription within 30 days, a reversal of a Health and Human Services decision to apply age restrictions.

The Justice Department also requested an injunction on the decision until the final outcome of the appeal.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the initial lawsuit against age restrictions on the morning-after-pill, took the administration to task for the appeal.

“The federal court has made clear that these stalling tactics were based purely on politics, not science,” Nancy Northup, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.”

The National Organization for Women also called on the Obama administration to eliminate all age restrictions shortly following the FDA’s announcement of the age change.

“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,” NOW president Terry O’Neill said.

The socially conservative Concerned Women for America,  on the other hand, slammed the FDA for lowering the age restrictions.

“It makes no sense that kids need parental permission to take aspirin at school, but they’re free to buy and administer Plan B,” CWA president and CEO Penny Nance said. “Also known as the morning-after pill, Plan B contains 40 times the dosage of Levonorgestrel, the same drug used in other forms of birth control. If Plan B is so ‘safe,’ then why is a prescription required for birth control? The same ‘women’s rights’ advocates who want every decision to be between ‘a woman and her doctor’ are now eliminating the doctor, isolating young girls in situations that need adult guidance.”

Follow Caroline on Twitter