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Judge OKs 'morning-after pill' for girls of all ages

4:30 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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A federal judge in New York has ordered all restrictions dropped on the sale of the emergency contraceptive bill, known as Plan B. When the controversial pill was introduced into the U.S. market in 2011, the government banned its over the counter sale to girls under 17. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge in New York has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the "morning-after" pill available without prescription to girls of all ages.

The ruling overturns a decision in 2011 by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that barred over-the-counter sales of the controversial pill to girls under 17. Sebelius' decision itself had overruled an FDA recommendation to widen availability

The pill, popularly known as "Plan B," typically works up to 72 hours after intercourse.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, of Brooklyn, said his order must be carried out within a month.

He criticized the FDA for failing to engage in rulemaking to adopt an age-restricted marketing regime. He said the plaintiffs, reproductive-rights organizations, should not be forced to endure - and the agency's misconduct should not be rewarded - for its "delay and obstruction."

Korman said the case isn't about the potential misuse of the so-called morning-after pill by 11-year-olds. He said the contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over the counter. He said the number of 11-year-olds likely to use the drugs was minuscule.

Last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter without a prescription to help lower the nation's high unintended pregnancy rate.

The pill has been widely available for several years in Europe and Latin America.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Federal Order to FDA on Morning After Pill by Doug Stanglin

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

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