Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

May 3, 2013

Obama OK with morning-after pill sales at age 15

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday he was comfortable with his administration's decision to allow over-the-counter purchases of a morning-after pill for anyone 15 and older.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday had lowered the age at which people can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription to 15 — younger than the current limit of 17. The FDA decided that the pill could be sold on drugstore shelves near condoms, instead of locked behind pharmacy counters.

Obama, speaking at a news conference while in Mexico, said the FDA's decision was based on "solid scientific evidence."

What's still unclear is whether the administration will prevail on its appeal of a court order that would lift all age limits on purchasers of the pill.

That decision to appeal set off a storm of criticism from reproductive rights groups, who denounced it as politically motivated and a step backward for women's health.

"We are profoundly disappointed. This appeal takes away the promise of all women having timely access to emergency contraception," Susannah Baruch, Interim President & CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, said in a statement late Wednesday.

"It is especially troubling in light of the Food and Drug Administration's move yesterday to continue age restrictions and ID requirements, despite a court order to make emergency contraception accessible for women of all ages. Both announcements, particularly in tandem, highlight the administration's corner-cutting on women's health," Baruch said. "It's a sad day for women's health when politics prevails."

After the appeal was announced late Wednesday, Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said, "The prevention of unwanted pregnancy, particularly in adolescents, should not be obstructed by politicians." She called it a "step backwards for women's health."

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