The yearlong fight over emergency contraception has hopefully come to an end as the federal government agreed Monday to comply with U.S. District Judge Edward Korman’s previous, April 5th, court ruling which made emergency contraceptive pills, also known as “Plan B” or the “morning-after pill”, available over-the-counter to women of all ages. The Obama Administration pulled back its efforts to appeal the previous ruling, with the Department of Justice sending a letter to the judge detailing its submission of a plan of compliance. If the judge accepts, the DOJ’s appeal on the previous court order will be dropped.
The DOJ’s plan requires the manufacturer of Plan B to submit a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with an updated label that would allow it to be sold over-the-counter without any restrictions. Once received, The FDA plans to approve the application immediately, making Plan B, as well as its generic version of pill, as easily accessible as Tylenol.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards said in a statement to MSN News that the upholding of the judge’s order is “a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity.”
The Obama Administration’s decision to comply with Judge Korman’s order seems to be a different stance from its previous position over the past few months, as the administration, along with some from the conservative party, were fighting to place a 15 and above age limit on the drug. The administration’s appeal initially made advocacy groups, that once thought of the administration as a supporter for women’s rights, question why the Democratic president had appeared to side with conservatives on the issue.
“It’s about time that the administration stopped opposing women having access to safe and effective birth control,” said Annie Tummino, a plaintiff of a unrestricted sale of Pan B lawsuit and coordinator of the National Women’s Liberation, in an emailed statement to MSN News.
However, despite its agreement to Judge Korman’s order, the Obama Administration could be seeing how much it can get away with as it did not include the older, two-pill version of Plan B in its outlined plan, even though the version was approved to be made available without restrictions by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York last week.
Opponents of the unrestricted sale of Plan B expressed their disappointment with administration’s compliance, and according the director of the councils for Human Diginity, Anna Higgin’s in a statement to MSN News, the administration’s submission to the order is being viewed as “the government caving to political pressure.”
Still, it may be some time before Plan B sees over-the-counter distribution without restrictions as the judge still needs to review and agree to the DOJ’s plan of compliance and the FDA must approve the manufacturer’s application.
Krysta is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.