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FDA rules Plan B available to many teens without a prescription

Posted at 10:21 AM, May 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-01 10:22:15-04

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced women and girls, 15-years-old and up, can buy the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive pill without a prescription.

Previously, teenagers under 17-years-old needed a prescription. The morning after pill will soon be available in pharmacies over-the-counter and women will just have to show proof of age to a cashier.

“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,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Plan B One-Step is a single dose pill that can be taken within three days of unprotected sex. According to the FDA,  it will not end a pregnancy and there is no medical evidence it will harm a developing fetus.

Planned Parenthood said the FDA decision is an important step forward. “This decision will eliminate some of the biggest barriers and hurdles that women face in getting emergency contraception when they need it, which means many more women will be able to prevent unintended pregnancy,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards.

But not everyone is happy about the decision. The Family Research Council’s Anna Higgins said, “This decision shows an alarming lack of concern for the safety of young girls, the fundamental rights of parents, and concerns of the medical community.”

Unrelated to the FDA’s decision on Tuesday, a Federal Judge ruled in April that the FDA must make the pill available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription. The Department of Justice said it is considering the next steps in the litigation.