Plan B, or the morning after pill, will now be sold as an over-the-counter drug and will be available for those 15 or older. While the pill used to be available for teens, the contraceptive was sold to those 17 or older, and only with a prescription. With the new law in place, those wishing to buy the pill can do so without seeing a pharmacist. cashiers will be responsible for age checks.
The FDA says that this new approval is not a result of an April 5th ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman, who stated that emergency contraception has been shown to be extremely safe, and that the FDA's age limits were arbitrary.
"FDA has engaged in intolerable delays," Korman said, amounting to an "administration agency filibuster."
Korman's ruling was in response to a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to expand access to emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within three days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, studies show. Even more troubling, 52 percent of Latina teens will get pregnant at least once before their 20th birthday.
Plan B One-Step, a single pill containing a hormone found in birth control pills, sold by Teva Women's Health, does not terminate an existing pregnancy and does not harm a developing fetus, the FDA said.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, believes that while this is a step in the right direction, there are still obstacles to be addressed.
"Lowering the age restriction to 15 for over-the-counter access to Plan B One-Step may reduce delays for some young women — 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. These are daunting and sometimes insurmountable hoops women are forced to jump through in time-sensitive circumstances, and we will continue our battle in court to remove these arbitrary restrictions on emergency contraception for all women."
What do you think of this new ruling? Do you think 15-year-olds should have access to emergency contraceptives, or should the age be even lower? Share in the comments!