FDA Still Blocking Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception For Teens

Under the Bush administration, the FDA ruled that only women over the age of 18 could have access to Plan B emergency contraception without a prescription. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the FDA in 2005 in federal district court arguing that the FDA's limitations were arbitrary and should be overturned. Last year, Judge Edward Korman agreed that the agency had acted in "bad faith and in response to political pressure," and ordered the FDA to allow 17 year-olds access to the drug within 30 days and to reconsider the substantial body of scientific evidence that suggests that most teenage females could safely use the drug.

The FDA has so far ignored the judge's order. Consequently, the Center has announced that it has filed a motion for contempt against the Food and Drug Administration for failing to follow the court's order regarding access to emergency contraception for women of all ages. The Center's press release notes:

“The FDA has had ample time, countless opportunities, and overwhelming scientific evidence put before it to make a decision on Plan B,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The President promised that his administration would reverse the Bush policy of politics trumping science. But when it comes to emergency contraception, it's a new administration playing the same old games." ...

“All of the scientific facts are there and FDA experts agree – emergency contraception has proven safe and effective to be sold over-the-counter to all ages,” said Suzanne Novak, lead counsel in the case.  “It’s time for the FDA to stop the stonewalling, follow the science, and make emergency contraception available without a prescription to women of all ages.”

Right next to the condom display.

See my column, "Safety, Efficacy, and Morality," on the FDA's initial mishandling of emergency contraception.

Disclosure: A while back I made a small donation to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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  • ||

    Question for grammar nazis out there... Should "over the counter" by hyphenated? My gut says yes.

  • ||

    Or "be" hyphenated. Okay, maybe I should worry more about basic spelling and less about the Chicago Manual of Style.

  • ||

    CMS: Happy now? :-)

  • waffles||

    CMS = clubmedsux or chicagomanualofstyle? Who is Ron trying to make happy?

  • waffles||

    CMS = clubmedsux or chicagomanualofstyle? Who is Ron trying to make happy?

  • ||

    You're the man, Ron!

  • Warty||

    What a stupid ass-question.

  • Pip||

    I see what you did there.

  • ||

    My wife does tell me I'm a dumb ass-.

    (Okay, that doesn't work AT ALL when "ass" is the last word of the sentence.)

  • 8||

    just add hole like your wife does under her breath

  • ||

    http://xkcd.com/37/

    /obligatory

  • ||

    Your gut is correct.

  • Q-Tip||

    Yes. Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals are sold over the counter.

  • Grammar Nazi||

    They should be shot in the back of the head, their organs harvested, and their corpses burned in furnaces...

    Oh, wait, sorry.. uh, yeah, hyphens. Macht Schnell Mit Ze Hyphenshtein!!

  • LoboSolo||

    Yes, it should be hyphenated.

  • Gibby||

    "Disclosure: A while back I made a small donation to the Center for Reproductive Rights."

    BABY-SCRAPER!

  • Pip||

    Regarding PlanB: If you don't want to get prgnant, go with PlanAss.

  • ||

    I like the way you think, Pip.

  • Old Mexican||

    There's no urge that a little cunilingus cannot cure...

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    I would be less cynical about the movement to deny teens access to contraception and abortion if it weren't so much easier to be a grandparent than a parent. Conflict of interest; that's all I'm saying.

  • lukas||

    It's not that easy to be a grandparent when your daughter is a single mum in high school.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    I said easier, not easy. I used a comparative adjective to denote relative, not absolute, ease.

  • ¢||

    Should "over the counter" by hyphenated?

    The rule for headlines is, "If it'll make sense without a hyphen, don't put one there. They look funny."
    BUUUUU-UUUU-SSSS-SH

  • Old Mexican||

    The FDA has so far ignored the judge's order. Consequently, the Center has announced that it has filed a motion for contempt against the Food and Drug Administration for failing to follow the court's order regarding access to emergency contraception for women of all ages.

    Why does the US need the FDA, again?

    Ah, yes, I remember - to impose barriers of entry against the competitors of the politically well-connected. I knew it had nothing to do with food or drug safety...

  • ||

    If we used the same logic for automobile safety, there would be a law requiring spikes and razor-sharp raw steel edges on the dashboard of your new car. And seat belts would be illegal.

    Is this a great country, or what?

  • Tulpa||

    I wasn't aware that the law causes sex to naturally lead to conception.

  • cynical||

    I wasn't aware that spiked dashboards and missing seatbelts caused wrecks.

  • Zeb||

    What the hell is wrong with people? If you are against abortion, and you are against this, then fuck you. If you don't like abortion, easy effective contraception should be your favorite thing. People like to fuck even when not trying to make babies; get used to it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Zeb,

    Zeb, baby, don't you understand? Who do you think would need PlanB more desperately?

    a) Grown women who already USE contraception, or
    b) Stupid Bristol Palin-like teenagers?

    If you guessed b), then you would see that the rationale behind the FDA's reluctance to place PlanB as an over-the-counter drug has to do with not taking away the MD's $25.00 copays (at a minimum) per prescription cash cow away from them. What else???

    FOLLOW THE FUCKING MONEY! Cui bono? Who do ya think?

  • Law Student||

    Many pro-lifers think that this counts as an abortion drug. I'm pro-life but the way I understand how the drug works doesn't seem to be a problem to me.

  • Tulpa||

    It's not your understanding of how the drug works, but your opinion of whether preventing implantation of an embryo is morally equivalent to destruction of it.

  • Law Student||

    The simple answer is I don't. Also if Plan B is taken quickly then it doesn't even reach that stage anyways.

  • ||

    By that logic, cutting a skydiver's parachute lines just before they jump doesn't constitute murder.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    All contraception is abortion. Having a period is murder. All women should be pregnant all the time.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    By that logic, cutting a skydiver's parachute lines just before they jump doesn't constitute murder.


    Not so.

    The person cutting the parachute lines is aware of the existence of the skydiver.

    At the time the Plan B drug is taken, the baby does not even exist yet, so how can the user of Plan B have a duty to nourish something that does not exist?

  • cynical||

    True. It's more like cutting the line without knowing whether the skydiver will work up the nerve to jump. You can't be sure you'll kill someone, but your action is meaningless unless it kills, and a chance of killing is your sole intent.

    If you think that life begins at "conception", that still leaves the question of whether that refers to fertilization or implantation. If the latter, it's just contraception, but if it's the former, then it's just another form of abortion.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If you think that life begins at "conception", that still leaves the question of whether that refers to fertilization or implantation. If the latter, it's just contraception, but if it's the former, then it's just another form of abortion.


    In the skydiver analogy, the skydiver has a reasonable expectation for the parachute to function. At what point does a fertilized egg obtain the expectation to implant?

    Also, are people considered dead only if every single one of their component cells are dead? This actually has a lot to do with the idea of life beginning at conception.

  • ||

    Your first statement is irrelevant. If a severely retarded person is brought skydiving, that person has no expectation that the parachute will work either. Cutting the parachute cords is still murder in that case; the state of mind of the person killed is irrelevant.

    As for your second statement, I'm not sure what you think it has to do with this. The blastocyst contains all cells of that person that have ever existed, and is capable (given a suitable environment) of growing into a fully-functional human on its own accord. It's not like chopping off an arm from a dying person and keeping those cells alive, because the arm is not capable of growing by itself no matter what environment you put it in.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    As for your second statement, I'm not sure what you think it has to do with this. The blastocyst contains all cells of that person that have ever existed, and is capable (given a suitable environment) of growing into a fully-functional human on its own accord. It's not like chopping off an arm from a dying person and keeping those cells alive, because the arm is not capable of growing by itself no matter what environment you put it in.


    But that arm is still composed of living, human cells organized into tissues and organs.

    My point is that if life begins at conception, it can only end when all component cells die.

    If a severely retarded person is brought skydiving, that person has no expectation that the parachute will work either.


    How so?

  • ||

    It's more like cutting the line without knowing whether the skydiver will work up the nerve to jump. You can't be sure you'll kill someone, but your action is meaningless unless it kills, and a chance of killing is your sole intent.

    Or more generally, cutting the cords on a parachute pack sitting on the ground near a skydiving plane before takeoff. You have no idea if anyone is even going to use that pack at that point, but the only purpose for doing this is to bring about someone's death.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Or more generally, cutting the cords on a parachute pack sitting on the ground near a skydiving plane before takeoff. You have no idea if anyone is even going to use that pack at that point, but the only purpose for doing this is to bring about someone's death.


    There is still a reasonable expectation that someone will use the parachute.

  • Wesley||

    Many pro-lifers think that this counts as an abortion drug. I'm pro-life but the way I understand how the drug works doesn't seem to be a problem to me.

    Same here. Pro-life, but never bought the Plan-B = abortion argument.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Many pro-lifers think that this counts as an abortion drug.


    With a high-enough enough dose, pretty much any drug can terminate a pregnancy.

  • ||

    don't forget "foot to the stomach". effective since 10,000 BC.

  • Steve||

    Wouldn't just be easier to use the pill (the normal kind) and be done with it? Your too lazy take a pill-a-day, but you got the energy to mop-up and run to the pharmacy?

  • ||

    You gave the reason right there-- 'a pill a day'. With regular birth control, you have to deal with whatever side-effects you may have every day, or nearly every day. With Plan B, you only have the side-effects for a short time.

  • Law Student||

    The side-effects are incredibly strong though. The pill is much safer. Using Plan B as your normal means of contraception is retarded.

  • ||

    The side effects of not taking either are stronger.

    ...may cause loss of sleep, loss of income, loss of temper, loss of social life...etc

  • Steve||

    For the people who suffer from side-effects, there are implants and other alternatives. As long as science comes up with a way to prevent pregnancy without harming another human being (regardless of state of development), I'm all for it and expect that we'll discover something in the future to make the abortion debate moot.

  • Thermonuclear Warhead||

    We already have!

  • Law Student||

    18 is a probably too high but at some age shouldn't the parents be involved? Plan B is a powerful drug.

  • Tulpa||

    Er, doesn't SCOTUS consider laws requiring parental consent for full-blown surgical abortion to be unconstitutional?

  • Law Student||

    SCOTUS can suck a dick.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    The strength of the drug is your concern? The only practical purpose for the minimum age law is to give parents a chance to object to Plan-B. The alternatives are abortion or giving birth to a baby. Both tend to involve much more powerful drugs and either is much more dangerous than Plan-B.

  • ||

    They should have been involved in raising their child. After about age 15, the best society can do is take actions to mitigate their stupidity. PlanB can be handed out like candy at halloween for all I care.

  • Typical Idiotic Objection||

    But it's an *abortion pill!*

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Almost any pill can be an abortion pill.

    It depends on the dose.

  • ||

    Mr Bailey, if you weren't ashamed of what "emergency contraception" does, you would call it what it is.

  • ||

    Forget the minor detail that it's an abortifacient. Do you support the damage done to the environment with all the estrogen excreted by Pill users? What do you say to the research linking the Pill to breast and ovarian cancer?
    Are you aware of what happened in the UK to the rates of STD's since the morning after pill was made available OTC?
    Do some research on the topic and you might change your mind.

  • Post-Coital Rat||

    Forget the minor detail that it's an abortifacient.


    No, isn't. It prevents implantation, just like the standard contraceptive pill, which is distinct from post-implantation abortion.

    Do you support the damage done to the environment with all the estrogen excreted by Pill users?


    Or the damage caused to the environment by an additional human being for 70 years? Your environmental argument is a failure.

    What do you say to the research linking the Pill to breast and ovarian cancer?


    The breast cancer risk drops after 10 years post-use for the standard contraceptive pill. It is there, but it drops. (And we do have a lot of success these days dealing with breast cancer.) But Plan B isn't the standard pill! It may have the same ingredients as the standard contraceptive pill, but a person only takes one at the time that it is needed. It is in no way the same risk.

    For ovarian cancer, the risk is actually reduced with standard contraception! Please read the link where you can find references to actual studies on cancer risk which are in direct contradiction to your assertion. Although, in the same way that there is not the same breast cancer risk for Plan B, it is unlikely to have the same benefit for ovarian cancer. It's a wash, which makes your assertion nonsense.

    Are you aware of what happened in the UK to the rates of STD's since the morning after pill was made available OTC?


    All I can find are a bunch of religious sites claiming that it increases the STD rate, and none of them provide any actual data on the fact. If there is any reliable information available (i.e., more than mere assertions), no one seems to have put it online. Since you've struck out so far, I feel pretty safe in maintaining my skepticism.

    Your claims sound like you are referring to RU-486. (Or possibly just making stuff up.) Since RU-486 isn't what's under discussion here, and you are obviously undereducated on the subject, why don't you go do some research.

  • ||

    Umm, my guess is that the environmental damage by estrogen is a hell of alot less than the environmental damage of another full grown human being...

    ..and I don't give a shit about STD rates because those are just poor choices that don't effect me (except when my stupid government insists I pay for other people's STD medication

    ...and finally since I'm a general misanthrope, go fuck yourself (its really the only safe way).

  • Spazmo||

    Why are you posting under a female name, Alain?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Why do we even need an FDA at all?

  • ||

    Need has been such an abused word that I propose banning its use in political discourse. In its place, the word "reallywant" can be used.

  • FDA||

    "The FDA has had ample time, countless opportunities, and overwhelming scientific evidence put before it to make a decision..."

    We thank you for voicing your opinion. However, that's just how we roll.

  • ||

    Less babies = future less people = less idiots I have to deal with = unqualified good.

    Abortions for all!

  • DWPittelli||

    For people who believe in a discrete soul, and thus that abortion is a sin because fetuses have a soul, it seems more likely and less arbitrary that this soul would come with the creation of the zygote (fertilization), which sets the person's DNA and starts the embryotic growth process, than with implantation, which is merely hooking up the blood pipe to the mom. I do not count myself among these religious people, but I have to agree that their timeline is rational given their beliefs. Of course, political arguments relying on religious beliefs tend to be intractable and fruitless.

    For most others who are squeamish about abortion, the fact that the pre-implantation zygote obviously has no thoughts or feelings, and has essentially no human structure, is more compelling. In the latter category, I am not morally troubled by implantation-blocking drugs as I am troubled by abortions. (FYI, I am in favor of legal abortions at the pregnant woman's discretion, certainly in the first few months of pregnancy; but like anyone, I think, I'd rather my female relatives and friends all be lucky with their birth control than that any would have to go through abortions.)

    Of course, the reason the FDA, at least under Obama, is stalling, more likely has to do with a paternalistic concern for the consequences. When a couple is fooling around and realizes that neither party has a condom on them, it is likely that their knowledge of the availability of day-after pills will increase the odds they will have sex anyway. This will increase STDs and may even increase implanted pregnancies beyond what we see in the absence of said pill. Now, I tentatively think that the FDA should not take such paternalistic arguments into account, but possibly if the empirical numbers are bad enough on something I might change my mind. I'd also like to point out that such FDA paternalism is not limited to birth control or to right-wing causes. The FDA, for example, has held up at-home tests for diseases because they think people cannot handle painful facts without some doctor or councilor to tell them how to think about it.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    For people who believe in a discrete soul, and thus that abortion is a sin because fetuses have a soul, it seems more likely and less arbitrary that this soul would come with the creation of the zygote (fertilization), which sets the person's DNA and starts the embryotic growth process, than with implantation, which is merely hooking up the blood pipe to the mom. I do not count myself among these religious people, but I have to agree that their timeline is rational given their beliefs. Of course, political arguments relying on religious beliefs tend to be intractable and fruitless.


    True.

    Although as I had pointed out, ensoulment at the moment of fertilization implies desoulment only when the last component cell dies.

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