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NY judge makes morning-after pill available to all

UPDATE -- A landmark ruling today on contraceptives as a federal judge orders the FDA to make the morning after pill available to people of any age without a prescription.  This isn't the first court battle over the pill. Back in 2004, the FDA banned over the counter access.  Then in 2006, it allowed anyone 18 years and older to get the morning after pill without a prescription.  In 2009, the FDA loosened its restrictions to 17 years and older.  Then in 2011, the FDA originally okay-ed the pill without a prescription, but the decision was overturned by the federal government.

Some groups are calling this a huge victory for women's rights.  Planned parenthood says nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended in this country.  750,000 girls aged 15 to 19 become pregnant each year.  It calls the court's ruling a "positive decision for women."

Some, however, call it dangerous and misguided.  "As a parent myself, it's a very offensive ruling to me says I don't have the right to guide my child," said Kathy Gallagher, Director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.

No prescription, no parental consent.  Emergency contraception will be available on the store shelves like any other item at the pharmacy.  The Catholic Conference believes it sends a message that sex is carefree and without consequence.

"You're talking about 12 and 13 year old girls who could potentially under this new ruling go to Walgreens today, Rite Aid tomorrow, CVS the next day and just keep getting these high doses of hormones and putting them in their body," Gallagher said.

Taking Plan B from behind the counter, says Planned Parenthood, takes away barriers women may face when purchasing the drug.  "It's access without being judged, access as far as not having to go to the pharmacist who may have some personal views as to whether or not a young woman or a couple should have access to an effective birth control method," said Christine Pluviose, Vice President for Patient Services.

Planned Parenthood says Plan B is effective within five days of sex. "There is ample amount of scientific research that supports safe and effective use of emergency contraception at all ages," Pluviose said.

However others worry about the possibility of detrimental cultural and health impacts.  "There are undetermined effects on a female's future fertility," Gallagher said.  "So, what are we saying to our young people?"

Planned Parenthood offers free emergency contraception at its locations.  With a prescription filled at the drug store now, it could cost someone upwards of fifty dollars.  The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is.

Emergency contraception should be made available on store shelves within 30 days.





NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York federal judge has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must make emergency contraceptives available to women of all ages within 30 days.

Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn made the ruling Friday.

He says his order must be carried out within a month, and he criticized the FDA for failing to engage in rule making to adopt an age-restricted marketing regime.

He says the plaintiffs should not be forced to endure and the agency's misconduct should not be rewarded for its "delay and obstruction."

He says the case isn't about the potential misuse of the so-called morning-after pill by 11-year-olds.

He says the contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter.

He says the number of 11-year-olds likely to use the drugs was minuscule.

   AP-WF-04-05-13 1404GMT