A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the Obama administration to make a generic, two-pill version of emergency contraception available to women of all ages without restrictions.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did, however, grant the Obama administration’s request for a stay of a lower court’s order to sell a one-pill version, Plan B One-Step, to women of all ages without a prescription while it appeals the decision.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said the decision “marks an historic day for women’s health.”
“Finally, after more than a decade of politically motivated delays, women will no longer have to endure intrusive, onerous, and medically unnecessary restrictions to get emergency contraception,” group CEO Nancy Northrup said in a prepared statement.
Last month, the Obama administration asked the appellate panel last month to delay the enforcement of U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman’s April 5 order to broaden access to the morning-after pills, even to minors.
The administration cited procedural flaws in his ruling and a lack of scientific evidence on how the pill could affect girls younger than 15.
Its efforts to take control of the politically volatile issue follows a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, with support from President Obama, to override the Food and Drug Administration’s advice to make the pill available without age restrictions.
Days before the Justice Department filed its appeal, the FDA lowered the age threshold, from 17 to 15, for unfettered access to the one-pill form of the drug by approving an application from the drug’s maker, Teva Women’s Health.
Judge Korman rebuked the administration for “sugar-coating” its appeal with the move and accused Mrs. Sebelius of continuing an “administrative filibuster” of the scientific community’s attempt to make Plan B available to all girls of reproductive age.