The Food and Drug Administration finally approved over-the-counter sales of the “morning-after pill.” Sweet victory, right? Not exactly.
The approval is only for women ages 18 and older, and the drug will only be sold from behind pharmacy counters, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
New York State Senator, Liz Krueger, urging the passage of a bill that would make emergency contraception available to women of all ages, released a statement yesterday saying, “If the government were serious about reducing unintended pregnancies, they would follow the science and recognize that the medicine is equally as safe for those under the age of 18 as it is for those older. This sends the wrong message about the safety of this product. This is politics trumping science.”
In fact, the President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, says that her organization filed a lawsuit against the FDA alleging “that the agency never intended to fairly consider the scientific evidence that Plan B is safe and effective for women of all ages and that high-level officials engaged in an intricate cover-up that culminated with today’s decision.”
According to Krueger, “The New England Journal of Medicine reported that as many as half of all unwanted pregnancies may be prevented with unfettered access to emergency contraception, which does not interrupt, disrupt or harm already existing pregnancies, but instead prevents pregnancy before it has been established.”
So, while the FDA’s recent decision represents some progress in standing up to the Bush Administration and right-wing extremists, the agency still needs to hear that its job is to take action based on sound science, not paternalistic notions of women’s health.