Morning After Pill Controversy

By: AP
By: AP

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For five years plan B --the emergency contraception drug has been available without a prescription to women 17 and older....The issue is should that be changed-- and the drug made available with no prescription to younger girls.

When the FDA looked at safety studies it said yes--but it was directly overruled by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her denial stunned many public health proponents.

I remain flabbergasted.

Susan Wood a former FDA official says women need over the counter access--because Plan B prevents pregnancy only if taken quickly.

So having any kind of barrier means perhaps we wait a day, perhaps we wait a few days. And by then the product no longer can help prevent unintended pregnancy.

What made the denial so unusual was the level of public disagreement. Secretary Sebelius said that she was protecting teenage girls--some of whom reach childbearing age at 11 years--and the evidence did not show she said "that those who (might) use this medicine can understand the (warning) label."

FDA Comissioner Margaret Hamburg directly contradicted that-- citing studies--that "adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use".

At Grubbs Pharmacy in Washington pharmacist Yvette Fulgeras agreed the drug should not be available to younger teens --saying they need to know Plan B's side effects--starting with nausea.

I do believe it should be something you should consult with a health professional

But Plan B's approval has always been tinged with politics. Even though the drug prevents conception and is not an abortion drug--anti abortion rights group argue it does stop life.

White House officials say this was not a political decision --and President Obama has said medicine should be based on science--but this is a case where the scientists at FDA were reversed by their politically appointed boss.

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