Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to ignore a recommendation from the federal Food and Drug Administration that Plan B, the “morning after pill,” be made available over the counter without any age restrictions, The New York Times reports. It’s is the first time an HHS secretary has overruled the FDA.
So, why make a girl 16 or younger who had unprotected sex, ended up with failed birth control or was raped jump through the hoop of getting a prescription for a drug the FDA has determined “should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” according to agency commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg?
In a statement, Sebelius said that the drug’s manufacturer had failed to study whether girls as young as 11 years old could use Plan B safely. And since about 10 percent of girls are capable of bearing children as early as 11, those girls need to be studied as well, she wrote.
CBS News reports that Dr. Susan Wood, who resigned from the FDA in 2005 “over the continued delay in approving emergency over-the-counter contraception,” was “surprised by today's development because it “seems counter” to the memo Obama issued in 2009 promising to restore “scientific integrity to government decision-making.” She is calling on the president to reverse the decision.
Can we call on him, too? We get so excited when we take a step forward. Why must there always be a step back?