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Advocates To Push HHS To Remove Age Restrictions on Emergency Contraception

Advocates To Push HHS To Remove Age Restrictions on Emergency Contraception

December 5, 2012 — Reproductive-rights advocates on Tuesday said they plan to push the Obama administration to remove age restrictions on nonprescription access to emergency contraception, the Washington Times reports (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 12/4).

Currently, people younger than age 17 require a prescription to obtain EC, and anyone 17 or older must present proof of age to purchase EC without a prescription. Last December, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled FDA's approval of nonprescription sale of EC to people of all ages (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/27).

At a media briefing on Tuesday, Kirsten Moore -- president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project -- said more than 40 groups will present their case to Sebelius on removing age restrictions on EC access.

"This coalition feels the time is now to read the science and the evidence supporting nonprescription access to [EC]," she said, adding that the products "are safe enough and appropriate enough to be on the shelf -- right between the condoms and the pregnancy-test kits."

Conservative groups object to lifting the age restrictions. They claim EC is unsafe for younger teens and that men could pressure young girls to use the drugs without their parents' or doctors' knowledge.

However, momentum is building for expanded access to contraception, the Times notes. The United Nations Population Fund in November declared that family planning, including EC, is a "human right" and should be readily accessible. In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently called for oral contraceptives to be available without a prescription, while the American Academy of Pediatrics has voiced support for wider access to EC (Washington Times, 12/4).