Obama Administration Appeals Lowering Plan B Age Limit

Last week a federal judge ordered that the emergency contraception pill Plan B should be available over-the-counter to young women as young as 15 years old. While reproductive rights advocates and women's health groups praised the decision, but on Wednesday the Department of Justice filed notice that it will challenge the ruling in court.

The Federal Drug Administration (F.D.A.) recommended lowering the age limit on purchase of Plan B One-Step from 17 with valid ID to 15. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in an agency news release, "Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States."

She went on to explain, "The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease."

Increased access could be most beneficial for teen African-American girls who continue to have rates of documented abortions in the United States that are double the national average.

The new FDA ruling brings up other important concerns. At the time of sale, pharmacists will be required to check for valid government issued ID which many 15 year-olds may not have.  As we learned from the last election cycle, government ID is often unattainable for lower income men and women. Moreover, the importance of condoms to prevent the transmission of STIs is just as (if not more) important as the prevention of pregnancy.

President Obama spoke at Planned Parenthood's national conference this year, but the Administration's decision has drawn ire from women's health groups who believe access to the pill should be extended.

Do you agree with the Obama Administration's decision?


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Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or

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