Contraception and the End of Government Opposition

Morning After Pill and the End of Government Opposition

The Obama administration may have made an intelligent and beneficial decision.  They have decided to remove all opposition to the so called ‘emergency contraception,’  and its over the counter availability.

Fully aware of political repercussions, the administration removed its objections to the availability of the drug in an over-the-counter purchase for all women from age 15.  The Plan B One-Step, will be available without a prescription.

Resistance by the Justice Department ended Monday.  In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands that the Food and Drug Administration be allowed to certify the drug for nonprescription use.

According to sources, the Justice Department believed it may have lost the case in an appeals court, and create a difficult situation for the President’s position.

Women’s rights groups, who had filed lawsuits against the federal government for proposed legislation against the drug’s availability, displayed a cautious optimism.  They are waiting to see how the regulation will be implemented.

The purpose of the drug is to prevent fertilization if it is taken within 72 hours of intercourse.

“We will not rest in this fight until the morning-after pill is made available without delay and obstruction,’’ said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer and the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which represented the plaintiffs in the case.

The F.D.A. issued a statement Monday night saying that it planned to drop its appeal. “To comply with the order, the F.D.A. has asked the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step to submit a supplemental application seeking approval of the one-pill product to be made available O.T.C. without any such restrictions,’’ the statement said. “Once F.D.A. receives that supplemental application, the F.D.A. intends to approve it promptly.’’

For unknown reasons, this will undoubtedly raise the emotional level of pro-life advocates.  Their beliefs that a life conceived has preference over the well-being of the potential mother will raise another controversy for a President who is already embroiled in several scandals, the most serious of which has exploded with the revelation of the ultra-secret PRISM program.

Efforts by women’s rights groups to make the so called ‘morning after pill’ available to any woman, began as early as 1999, when the pill was approved as a prescription only medication.

The President expressed concerns about making the drug available to teenage women.  He cited the removal of parental consent.

But a federal judge angrily accused the administration of blocking the drug because of politics, not science, and ordered Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius  to reverse her decision.  Last week the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City partially refused the Justice Department’s request for a delay in the judge’s order while the government appealed.

By December 2011, after years of pressure from women’s reproductive rights groups and the companies selling the drug, the F.D.A. was poised to lift all age restrictions. By then the F.D.A. also said it had determined that the drug was safe.  But in an unprecedented move Ms. Sebelius overruled the agency.

Sebilius based her decision on whether the drug was safe for 10 year olds, which represent a minimal number of females who may be able to conceive a child.

Judge Korman’s reaction was swift and definitive.

“The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition,” the judge wrote. “Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster.”

He added, “The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency’s misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the F.D.A. to engage in further delay and obstruction.”

Fear of losing in an appeals court has force the federal government to end their opposition to the ‘morning after’ pill.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express


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