A U.S. judge recently ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make the emergency contraceptive called the morning-after pill available to girls younger than age 17 without a doctor's prescription. This was reported by Voice of America.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled that levonorgestrel-based contraceptives such as Plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose should be available over the counter to all customers within 30 days, LA Times wrote.
The morning-after pill is currently only available without a prescription to those 17 and older who can prove their age, said CBS News. Younger teens need a prescription.
The pill needs to be taken within three days of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy, said Boston Globe, but it is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours.
The drug, a synthetic hormone, prevents pregnancy by blocking ovulation and impeding the sperm’s mobility, stated LA Times. It does not cause an abortion in women who are already pregnant, nor does it harm a developing fetus.
Plan B was first approved for use by prescription only in 1999. In 2006, the FDA granted over-the-counter access to the pill for women 18 and older while maintaining the prescription requirement for younger females, reported MedPage Today.
In late 2011, the FDA was ready to allow the nonprescription sale of the drug to all ages. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the agency and continued to require prescriptions for those 16 and younger wrote LA Times.
Sebelius cited concern that the drug had not been tested in girls as young as 11 years of age, even though 10 percent of them are "physically capable of bearing children."
President Barack Obama said at the time that he supported Sebelius' decision, wrote CBS News.
Judge Korman said the federal government's requirement that young girls get a prescription first was "politically motivated" and "scientifically unjustified," said Voice of America.