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Court orders morning-after pill available to all

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 15, 2013

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A federal judge in New York has ordered that the most common form of emergency contraceptive, which the federal government does not allow to be sold to girls younger than 17 without a prescription, be made available to women of all ages.

The April 4 decision overturns a 2011 policy by the Dept. of Health and Human Services restricting access to the medication for girls 16 and younger. The HHS decision had rejected a recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration to expand availability of the so-called morning-after pill.

In its ruling, Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York said the standard for determining whether contraceptives should be available over the counter rests solely on the ability of the consumer to understand how to use the particular drug “safely and effectively.” Korman said the HHS decision to restrict access to the drug was not based on science, and he called the administration’s refusal to lift the limitations “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” (link).

The order must be carried out within one month, Korman said.

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