Pro-life groups were quick to criticize a federal judge’s ruling Friday that the government must make the morning-after pill available over the counter to women of all ages.
The federal Food and Drug Administration currently requires girls 16 years old and younger to obtain a prescription, under an order from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
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“We don’t think the morning-after pill is safe for any women, especially young girls,” Jim Sedlak, vice president of the Catholic pro-life American Life League, told Newsmax. “We’re appalled a judge would make this kind of decision, and we’re encouraging that it be appealed.”
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, told Newsmax: “It’s unconscionable for a federal judge to insert himself between parents and their children. This is just offering an opportunity for teens to behave irresponsibly, and more tragically, for men who abuse teenage girls to hide behind that abuse.”
Sebelius made an unprecedented move in 2011, overruling an FDA recommendation to make the pill available for all ages without a prescription.
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman, of Brooklyn, ruled the government’s refusal to lift the restrictions on access to the pill was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.
Korman also accused the federal government of bad faith in dealing with requests to make the pill universally available, and said its actions had been politically motivated.
He ordered the FDA to lift any age and sales restrictions on the pill — called Plan B One-Step — and its generic versions within 30 days.
The White House said Justice Department officials are reviewing the ruling, and reiterated that President Barack Obama supports the decision by Sebelius to place age restrictions on accessing the drug without a prescription.
“Secretary Sebelius made this decision. The president supported that decision after she made it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a press briefing Friday. “He supports that decision today. We believe that it was the right, common-sense approach to this issue.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called on the administration to appeal the decision.
“This misguided decision by an unelected judge attempts to reverse a reasonable and well-supported policy designed to ensure that girls 16 and younger get the advice of a doctor before buying morning-after pills,” Portman said.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which for years has been petitioning to expand over-the-counter access to all brands of the morning-after pill to females of all ages, praised the judge’s decision.
“Today science has finally prevailed over politics,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods.”
“Women all over the country will no longer face arbitrary delays and barriers just to get emergency contraception,” Northup said. “It’s a true victory for all women, especially young women, women without government-issued identification, and those who live in areas with limited pharmacy hours.”
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