ArticleDownload Worksheet May 31st, 2013
Obama Administration Moves to Limit Girls’ Access to Emergency Contraception
The Obama administration is fighting a judge’s order that would allow girls of all ages prescription-free access to Plan B, a pill that drastically lowers the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Emergency contraceptives like Plan B prevent pregnancy by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. Depending on the pharmacy, the pill can cost anywhere from $10 to $70.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) prior ruling allowed girls 17 and older to buy the drug without a doctor’s prescription. Pharmacies are required to keep the drug behind the counter. Girls under the age of 17 seeking to prevent an unwanted pregnancy have to visit a doctor in order to get a prescription for the pill.
Argument is messy intersection of medical research and politics
The battle over age limits began in 2005 when members of women’s groups filed a lawsuit against the FDA’s restriction on emergency contraceptive, saying it was “arbitrary and capricious” and “not the result of reasoned and good faith agency decision-making.”
Judge Edward Korman ruled in favor of the women’s groups in 2009, and ordered the FDA to allow Plan B’s manufacturer to come up with an evidence-based answer to whether to allow over-the-counter access to younger girls, and to consider lifting age restrictions altogether.
However, the case was reopened three years later when Kathleen Sebelius, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overruled the FDA’s plan to approve sales of Plan B for all women regardless of age.
The judge stood by his ruling, saying the administration’s position requiring women to prove their age would disadvantage young, poor and minority women who are less likely to have an identification card.
The FDA has now approved the sale of emergency contraceptives to women over the age of 15. It will be sold in pharmacies and will be displayed on the shelf, but a chip in the packaging will alert the cashier to check for ID.
Judge Korman, meanwhile, ordered the government to allow all girls to have access to the pills without a prescription.
The Obama administration backs Secretary Sebelius and the U.S. Justice Department who deny the Judge Korman has the right to issue such an order.
Consequences for young women
The policy resulting from this legal battle will have real consequences for young girls, who are reaching puberty at earlier ages and are more likely to have unintended pregnancies.
Supporters of over-the-counter access to emergency contraception say opening up the sale of Plan B would help young women avoid having a baby before they are ready, increasing their control over their own health and lives.
“Unintended pregnancies pose a significant risk to the physical and emotional health of adolescents,” said Thomas K. McInerny, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “While pediatricians recommend that teens delay sexual activity until they fully understand its consequences, we strongly encourage the use of contraception—including emergency contraception—to protect the health of our adolescent patients who are sexually active.”
On the other side, many people feel that young girls should have parental and doctor supervision and guidance over decisions related to their sexual activity and health.
“This decision shows an alarming lack of concern for the safety of young girls, the fundamental rights of parents, and concerns of the medical community,” said Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council. “Instead of allowing unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs to teens, parent-teen communication regarding the medical and moral issues involved with sexual behavior should be encouraged.”
While it seems the FDA tried to compromise by moving the age limit from 17 to 15, the judge in the original case continues to argue that the age limit is arbitrary and political, and only creates problems for younger girls who might face unwanted pregnancies.
— Compiled by Elise Garofalo for NewsHour Extra
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Obama passes baton to Clinton at DNC
The Democratic National Convention wrapped up its third day on Wednesday in Philadelphia with speeches by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Continue readingBarack ObamaDemocratic National ConventionDNC 2016Election 2016Hillary ClintonJoe BidenMichael BloombergMichelle Obama
Young people do care about being part of the democratic process
On July 15, I joined hundreds of supporters, members of Congress and vice presidential nominee Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to see Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speak at a rally in Northern Virginia. Continue readingCivicsElection 2016Hillary ClintonPoliticsSocial StudiesStudent Voices
10 things to know about the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will not be the only exciting event to watch this summer — the Democratic and Republican National Conventions will also be televised.Democratic National ConventionElection 2016presidential nominationrepublican national convention
Calls for unity are met with protest on first day of Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention began on Monday amid protests from supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and calls for unity to back Hillary Clinton. Continue readingBernie SandersDebbie Wasserman ShultzDemocratic National ConventionDemocratic PartyDNC 2016Election 2016Hillary ClintonWikileaks
Hillary Clinton’s long time in the political spotlight
While Clinton has topped the annual Gallup poll of “most admired woman” each of the last 14 years, a CBS poll last month showed nearly two-thirds of Americans say they don’t think she is honest or trustworthy. Continue readingDemocratic PartyElection 2016feminismFirst LadyHillary ClintonSecretary of State