The Obama administration did an about-face on emergency contraception Monday evening, announcing that it will allow women to obtain Plan B One-Step over the counter without age restrictions or ID requirements.
Last month, the Department of Justice had appealed an April 5 ruling by US District Court Judge Edward R. Korman, who said the Food and Drug Administration should make all forms of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception, or EC, available over the counter to all women, regardless of age. Here's the letter the DOJ sent Korman on Monday:
We write to advise the Court that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have complied with the Court’s April 10, 2013, judgment in the above-referenced case by granting the 2001 Citizen Petition and making Plan B One-Step (PBOS) available over-the-counter (OTC) without age or point-of-sale restrictions as described below. It is the government's understanding that this course of action fully complies with the Court's judgment in this action. Once the Court confirms that the government’s understanding is correct, the government intends to file with the Circuit Court notice that it is voluntarily withdrawing its appeal in this matter.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which had sued the administration to force universal availability of EC, welcomed the change, but noted that it still does not go far enough. "Now that the appeals court has forced the federal government's hand, the FDA is finally taking a significant step forward," said the group's president, Nancy Northup. "But the Obama Administration continues to unjustifiably deny the same wide availability for generic, more affordable brands of emergency contraception."
Northup added that CRR "will continue to fight for fair treatment for women who want and need more affordable options."