POLITICS
05/01/2013 07:47 pm ET Updated May 02, 2013

DOJ Appealing Judge's Morning-After Pill Order On Age Limits

One day after the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced its decision to lower the age for over-the-counter birth control access, the Department Of Justice (DOJ) is stepping in.

The New York Times reported Wednesday evening that the DOJ is appealing a federal order to have the FDA make Plan B available to all ages without a prescription. The decision of interest here is that of U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, who issued the ruling earlier this month.

The FDA lowered the age limit for over-the-counter access from 17 to 15 on Tuesday, effectively making the pill regulated like "beer" over "aspirin," the Associated Press noted. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released a statement the same day, calling the move a "step in the right direction."

"This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies," Murray said in a statement. "It's also a decision that moves us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not politics."

The FDA has until next Monday to address Korman's federal court decision. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of The Center for Reproductive Rights, told HuffPost Tuesday that is "crystal clear" that women must have over-the-counter access by that date.

"Lowering the age restriction to 15 for over-the-counter access to Plan B One-Step may reduce delays for some young women," she said. "But it does nothing to address the significant barriers that far too many women of all ages will still find if they arrive at the drugstore without identification or after the pharmacy gates have been closed for the night or weekend."

UPDATE (8:40 p.m. ET): Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards released a statement Wednesday evening on the DOJ's announcement.

“The Obama Administration took an important step forward earlier this week by moving emergency contraception out from behind the pharmacy counter and making it available to people ages 15 and older, and we continue to believe that access should be expanded further.

“Studies show that emergency contraception is a safe and effective form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex, and research also shows that teens are as likely as adults to use emergency contraception correctly. Age barriers to emergency contraception are not supported by science, and they should be eliminated.”

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