Should Plan B Be Available Regardless of Age?

The Obama administration will drop its attempt to restrict access to emergency contraception based upon age.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Obama administration announced Monday that it will allow the one-step morning-after contraceptive pill to be made available over-the-counter to women of all ages. This is a reversal of the Justice Department’s attempt to restrict young girls's access to the medication.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration was ordered by a district court judge to make Plan-B One-Step, which prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, available without a prescription and with no identification or age restrictions. The Obama administration filed an appeal, saying young girls shouldn't have access to the drug without knowledge of a parent or doctor. It wanted to require girls under age 15 to have a prescription to obtain the pill.

Obama personally opposed allowing universal access to Plan B as a father of two young girls. But the Justice Department seems to have wanted to avoid losing its appeal and the political reprecussions of bringing the case to the Supreme Court.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on health care.]

The American College of Pediatricians also opposes allowing young girls access to Plan B, because the organization says children need parental guidance in making such critical decisions:

The potency of these medications demands physician oversight, and equally important their over-the-counter availability circumvents parental involvement and may facilitate adolescent abuse. Health professionals need to encourage good parent-child communication, teach minors the benefits of delaying sexual activity until marriage, and teach them how to avoid situations resulting in coerced sex and premature/promiscuous consensual sex.

Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, however, said the decision is a step in the right direction. She also argued for the additional approval of generic emergency contraception:

We are pleased that women should soon be able to buy Plan B One-Step without the arbitrary restrictions that kept it locked behind the pharmacy counter when they needed it most urgently. But we will continue to fight for fair treatment for women who want and need more affordable options.

[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the Plan B Morning After Pill Be Available to 15-Year-Olds?]

The Obama administration is allowing the one-step pill to be approved by the FDA, but is not lifting age restrictions from less-common two-pill versions of the drug. The Justice Department said it is concerned young girls will not be able to accurately take the two doses without adult supervision.

What do you think? Should Plan B be available without a prescription regardless of age? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.