What happens when politics and science clash? You may recall that back in 2011 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the morning-after pill known as Plan B be made available without a prescription to all women, including those under the age of 17. The FDA’s recommendation was based on good scientific evidence that the pill was both safe and effective. But then the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) nixed the idea for what appeared to be political reasons (see this blog, Dec. 11, 2011). The FDA is a government agency within DHSS, so the secretary of DHSS effectively overruled the FDA.
The decision pleased conservatives and pro-life groups. But it didn’t end there. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the 17-and-older age restriction, and the whole issue went to court. Finally, just last week a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the morning-after pill must be made available to women of all ages. Judge Edward Korman wrote in his opinion that the pill is being withheld from younger women due to “political pressure emanating from the White House.”
The morning-after pill could become made available to women of all ages within a month, unless the decision is appealed - first to the U.S. Court of Appeals and then perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court. This may not be over yet.
reproductive system, science and society,