UPDATE: Plan B – Age Restrictions Lifted

Friday’s pivotal decision by a federal judge to overturn the age restriction on the sale of emergency contraceptive, Plan B, is a serious no-brainer. And really, it’s about damn time!

Image from Getty Images.

Image from Getty Images.

In 2011, after the Plan B medication (also coined as the morning-after pill) was concluded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for all ages, a proposition to make it universally available was shot down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Because of this, women 17 and older could only buy the pill at the pharmacy window with a valid ID for proof of age under a variety of circumstances: when another method of birth control failed, when unprotected sex occurred, or after sexual assault.

Now, two years later, federal judge Edward Korman has given the Health and Human Services Agency 30 days to lift age and sale restrictions on Plan B and its generic versions. This common sense decision is a landmark for reproductive rights and could allow (if it stands) any young woman to walk into her neighborhood drugstore, find the morning-after pill near the shelves stocked with condoms and KY Jelly and buy it- no questions asked.

Multiples studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that all kinds of women – old and young, married and single, from all ethnicities and education levels – depend on emergency contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies.

According to a four-year study by the National Center for Health Statistics, 11 percent of women have used emergency contraception at least once, up from 4.2 percent in 2002, and that nearly one in four women between the ages of 20 and 24 who had ever had sex have taken the morning-after pill at some point.

So, clearly, this decision is kind of a big deal.

“Today science has finally prevailed over politics,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement on Friday. “This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods.”

“Women all over the country will no longer face arbitrary delays and barriers just to get emergency contraception. It’s a true victory for all women, especially young women, women without government-issued identification, and those who live in areas with limited pharmacy hours,” Northup also added.

There are still some crucial unanswered questions – how affordable will it be, for one – and the government hasn’t yet said whether it will file an appeal, but the decision is still cause for instant celebration. Women of all ages need access to emergency contraception – and, in just 30 days, they should be able to purchase it as easily as Tylenol.

UPDATE VIA The Guardian Friday, May 10, 2013:

A federal judge has denied an appeal by the US government to an order granting the unrestricted access of emergency contraception to women of all ages.

“The decision today shows that the government’s appeal of the court’s order is frivolous and more of the same delay that it has engaged in for 12 years at the expense of women and girls who need access to emergency contraception as quick as possible,” Andrea Costello, senior attorney at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund said. “The court’s denial of the government’s request for a stay also confirms what the plaintiffs have been saying all along – the administration continues to play politics with women’s access to emergency contraception.”

Read the rest of the article here.



  1. I heard that this wasn’t passed? Is there any updated information on this court ruling?

    • Leslie, check out the update on the story at the bottom of the page, plus a link to the original article.

      Thanks for reading!

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