The Obama administration on Tuesday approved over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill for age 15 and above, a move that contradicts a court order requiring the pill to be made available to women of all ages.
While it fell short of that order, the administration’s move represents a historic liberalization of contraception rules — perhaps the most significant since the morning-after drug was approved 14 years ago. Today, Plan B is available to teenagers younger than 17 only with a prescription. Older women must request it from a pharmacist.
In early April, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make Plan B available over the counter to all women. He gave the Obama administration until May 5 to appeal his decision.
The FDA’s decision Tuesday, coming so close to that deadline and in conflict with Korman’s order, triggered confusion among women’s-health advocates. Some groups interpreted the FDA’s move as a precursor to an appeal. The Justice Department and the White House declined to comment on whether the Obama administration would challenge the ruling.