By now you've probably heard the bad news:
In what can only be called an astounding move by an Administration that pledged on inauguration day that medical and health decisions would be based on fact not ideology and for which women are a major constituency, today Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled a much-awaited decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter (OTC) to women of all ages.
That's right; Sebelius (in an unprecedentedly shitty move—no other health secretary has overruled an FDA decision like this before) deemed Plan B too complicated for young women of child-bearing age to comprehend, saying: "It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age. I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter for all girls of reproductive age."
This is a shocking and deeply disappointing setback for reproductive justice in the US. Had this decision been approved, Plan B would have been available on drugstore shelves (with the condoms, which no one seems to worry about young men having the "cognitive and behavioral" abilities to use), eliminating need for a prescription or proof that the user is older than 17. Now, though, not so much.
There will undoubtedly be more to come on this issue (hopefully better news, though I'm not holding my breath after today's decision). For now, here's some further reading that include suggestions on how to follow the story and let the HHS know your thoughts. Their number is 1-877-696-6775 if you'd like to let them know that their political beliefs should NOT affect our access to safe and legal medication.
- "In Astounding Move, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Overrules FDA Recommendation to Make Plan B Over-the-Counter" by Jodi Jacobson (RH Reality Check)
- "U.S. Rejects Plan to Widen Availability of Morning-After Pill" Associated Press (New York Times)
- "Obama administration refuses to relax Plan B restrictions" by Rob Stein (Washington Post)
- "Score One for Issa" by Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches)
- "Sebelius overrules FDA decision on emergency contraception" by Vanessa Valenti (Feministing)
- #SheParty Newsfeed (Twitter)
- "Plan B: HHS Prevents Morning After Pill From Hitting Drug Store Shelves" by Katie Moisse and Mikaela Conley (ABC, includes video)
- "Statement from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. on Plan B One-Step" (FDA)
Have you been reading about this issue? Please share in the comments.