Date: October 7th, 2014
By: Gina Desiderio
Today, Judge Edward R. Korman of Federal District Court ruled that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. According to the New York Times, “[Korman] also accused the federal government of ‘bad faith’ in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available.” His ruling counteracts Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ unprecedented overruling of an FDA recommendation to make the pill available over the counter to all ages in 2011.
Emergency contraception is most effective if used within the first 24 hours following sexual activity. The time sensitive nature of its effectiveness makes widespread availability a critical issue for all women and men. Without over the counter access to emergency contraception, those 17 and older are dependent on pharmacist availability (to verify age), and those 16 and younger are dependent on first obtaining a prescription, as well as pharmacist availability. Increased access to emergency contraception could reduce the number of unintended and/or terminated pregnancies that occur in this country each year. Therefore, emergency contraception should be widely and easily available to all whom can safely use it. The lifting of these age restrictions—which the judge ordered to happen within 30 days of today’s ruling—is a major victory for those who have advocated for this access for many years.
“Critics have expressed concern that adolescents’ access to and use of emergency contraception will increase sexual promiscuity and risky sexual behavior, however, research has shown that this is not the case,” says Healthy Teen Network President/CEO Pat Paluzzi. “We are pleased that the judge’s ruling will allow young people to have easy access to emergency contraception and hope to see teen pregnancy and abortion rates continue to decrease as a result.”
About the Author
Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.