Fox News is reporting that the decision came just days before a court-imposed deadline that would have lifted all age restrictions to Plan B.
This decision, rendered by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York, accused the Obama administration of letting politics trump science when it imposed age limits on the pills' availability over-the-counter. The ruling ordered all age limits lifted by May 6.
When the FDA's scientists were ready to lift all age limits on Plan B in 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the decision citing a lack of study on the impact of the drug on girls as young as 11 who could be of child-bearing age.
The pills contain high doses of the same hormones found in birth control pills, which can act as an abortifacient if a child is conceived, and are said to cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
The new ruling will allow the drug to be sold at pharmacy counters but buyers will have to prove their age at the cash register.
"This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash). "It's also a decision that moves us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not politics."
"Reproductive rights" groups say the lower age limit isn't good enough.
Lowering the age limit "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," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
"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," Northup said.
However, making more contraception available for teens rather than inspiring them to lead better lives goes against what parents want for their daughters.
As the National Abstinence Education Association reports, a study posted to the Health and Human services website in August 2010 showed that 70 percent of parents and more than 60 percent of teens believe that sex should be reserved for marriage. In those polls where parents are told the content of comprehensive sex ed programs, they prefer abstinence education by a 2:1 margin.
Even more important, parents want to retain parental rights over their children, especially when it comes to sexuality and the ingestion of potentially harmful drugs. But they lose these rights when drugs such as Plan B are made available over-the-counter and without parental consent.
"Not only are we encouraging irresponsibility, we’re encouraging teens to purchase drugs that we have no idea what their long term consequences will be on the body," writes Eric Odom for Liberty News.
" And all of it can happen without parents knowing about it."
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