Morning-after pill must be available for women of all ages - KMSP-TV

Morning-after pill must be available for women of all ages, federal judge rules

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A federal judge ruled Friday that the morning-after pill known as Plan B must be made available over the counter for women of all ages.

The decision on the controversial subject comes after lengthy legal battles over who should have access to the pill and at what age.

The Food and Drug Administration had initially decided to allow the emergency pill to be available for young teens. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA in late 2011, and the agency limited availability without a prescription to women 17 and older.

The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make the pill, commonly referred to as the abortion pill, available for all ages.

Korman accused the FDA of "intolerable delays" in reviewing a petition seeking broad access to the drug, likening the process to an "administrative agency filibuster."

"The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency's misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the FDA to engage in further delays and obstruction," he wrote.

The judge ordered the change to be completed in a month. The opinion is sure to rile conservatives and other pro-life groups, who consider the morning-after pill -- in many cases -- to act as an abortion-inducing drug.

The case started in 2005, and Korman initially ruled in 2009 that 17 year-olds should have over-the-counter access. The FDA then moved to allow that access to all ages, until Sebelius stepped in.

Korman wrote in his opinion that "the FDA bowed to political pressure emanating from the White House."

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