The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.
The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case.
The Justice Department’s action will not affect that F.D.A. decision. Rather, the department is seeking to overturn a much broader order by the judge that removed restrictions for all ages and for generic versions of the pill, not just Plan B One-Step.
This is ridiculous. The FDA first advised that the pill should be made available for all ages in 2011 after declaring it safe and effective. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apparently took exception this, as she then overruled the FDA because “the pill had not been studied for safety in girls as young as 11”. Not yet clear is why Sebelius apparently finds fault with the findings from the government branch strictly dedicated to studying and certifying the safety of ingestible substances, nor why a pill that has no serious or lasting side-effects would somehow be perfectly safe for 15-year-olds but not 11-year-olds, nor why a drug that’s already been in use around the world for years with zero reported casualties of any kind suddenly requires further testing before we can finally be certain of its safety.
There’s a fine line between security-conscious pedantry and playing politics under the guise of medical rigor. Does anyone else detect a whiff of ideological resistance, here?