Court orders FDA to make forms of morning-after pill available to all

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planb_one-step_In what seems to be an endless battle over emergency contraception and its [unnecessary] restrictions, a Federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to make certain forms of the 'morning-after' birth control pills-- the original two-step method-- available to anyone of any age.

The ruling comes with an important caveat which is that the FDA could continue to restrict a newer, one-pill method called Plan B One-Step while the agency handles a previous court ruling. The latest order further pressures FDA officials to make all emergency contraception available over the counter, without requiring either proof of age or a prescription.

Previously, federal judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make both types of birth control freely available. Last month, the FDA caved, approving one brand, Teva's Plan B One-Step, saying it could be sold without prescription to any girl or woman 15 or older with proof of age a seeming retreat from the age of 17 established in 2011. But the court says the FDA has to comply with Korman's order to make the older, two-step emergency contraception available to anyone right away.

The pills, which contain one or two doses of levonorgestrel, have also sparked debate over their safety. The formulations contain a high dose of the same hormone used in birth control pills to prevent or delay ovulation and in some cases prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. According to FDA officials, Plan B One-Step will not end pregnancy if a woman is already pregnant, and there is "no medical evidence it harms a developing fetus."

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava, our senior fellow in Nutrition, had this to say, The anti forces say, This is going to encourage sexual activity, but as a matter of fact, teenage pregnancies have been dropping over the last few years which suggests that some of these messages are getting out there and that teens are using contraception. This is a very strongly felt and very widely fought over issue. The pills are safe, they re effective, and I think it s important for everyone to have free access to them. While some may argue about the safety of this form of contraception, they ignore the fact that pregnancy itself, especially in young teens, may have negative effects on health.