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A packet of Plan B, emergency contraception
The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge's decision that emergency contraceptives should be available over the counter without age restrictions, continuing the Obama administration's apparent commitment to making Plan B access more difficult. The rationale for this challenge is priceless:
“The Court’s Order interferes with and thereby undermines the regulatory procedures governing FDA’s drug approval process,” the Justice Department said. “A drug approval decision involves scientific judgments as to whether statutory and regulatory factors are met that warrant deference to those charged with the statutory responsibility to make those decisions.”
Yes, that's right. Less than a year and a half ago, Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, blocked a recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration that emergency contraceptives be available over the counter to all ages instead of available over the counter to those 17 and older and available by prescription to those 16 and younger. Now, Obama's Justice Department is arguing that a judge shouldn't be able to interfere with the FDA's regulatory process as previously interfered with for craven political reasons by Obama's HHS secretary.

The Justice Department is asking for a stay of the judge's ruling, but regardless, the good news is that Plan B availability will be better going forward than it has been. That's thanks to an FDA decision calling for it to be available over the counter to women 15 and older, a decision that came the day before the Justice Department said it would be appealing the judge's ruling. Let's be clear, though: Science is not on the side of first Sebelius and now the Justice Department. All of the concerns that have been raised are smokescreens for the real issue here, which is the traditional freakout that if contraceptives are available, kids will have sex. The brow-furrowing about the dangers of Plan B and whether teens will be able to follow the directions and not, like, overdose or something? There are more dangerous pills currently available over the counter with the same directions (swallow the pill), and far cheaper, too. Not to mention that the physical risks of taking Plan B? They're a helluva lot smaller than the physical risks of teen pregnancy.

The science and public health imperatives are on the side of expanding access to emergency contraceptives. The Justice Department's invocation of "deference to those charged with the statutory responsibility to make those decisions" is ludicrous in the context of the Obama administration's earlier overruling of the FDA on this matter and, as the National Organization for Women's Terry O'Neill says, it's a "step backwards for women’s health." At this point, you have to conclude that the Obama administration is more interested in futilely appearing to oppose teenagers having sex than in actually preventing teenagers who have sex from getting pregnant.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu May 02, 2013 at 06:50 AM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Daily Kos.

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