By Elizabeth Wiley, JD, MPH
AMSA Vice President of Internal Affairs
In an act motivated by politics rather than scientific evidence, Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to keep Plan B emergency contraception from being sold over the counter, overruling the decision of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Currently, Plan B is sold behind pharmacy counters and is available without a prescription only for those 17 or older. At issue was whether the current age restrictions on the purchase of Plan B (levonorgestrel) should be lifted in light of new evidence that even the youngest girls of reproductive age were capable of using Plan B safely and effectively
. After a ten-month review, Dr. Hamburg stated, “there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential.” Secretary Sebelius’s veto of this evidence-based decision is unprecedented.
As a form of emergency contraception, Plan B is most effective when used within 72 hours of intercourse. Current over-the-counter age restrictions prevent retailers from stocking this form of contraception on the shelves and create barriers to access for women of all ages.
AMSA believes emergency contraception should be fully accessible to all and condemns Secretary Sebelius’s decision to continue to limit access to Plan B. It is deeply disappointing that the Obama Administration has privileged politics over science when it comes to women’s health and reproductive freedom. Take action today and tell Secretary Sebelius and President Obama to put evidence before politics and reconsider expanding access to Plan B