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FDA Must Allow Nonprescription Sale of Emergency Contraception to All Ages, Federal Judge Rules

FDA Must Allow Nonprescription Sale of Emergency Contraception to All Ages, Federal Judge Rules

April 5, 2013 — A federal judge on Friday ruled that FDA must permit the sale of emergency contraception to people of all ages without a prescription, Reuters reports.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman came in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of individuals and other reproductive justice groups that sought to lift age and point-of-sale restrictions on EC (Dye, Reuters, 4/5).

Physicians and reproductive-rights advocates have stressed that scientific evidence supports removing the restrictions, which require people younger than age 17 obtain a prescription to buy the drugs and those 17 or older present proof of age to purchase them without a prescription (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/10/12).

Although FDA in 2011 opted to approve nonprescription sale of EC to people of all ages, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made an unprecedented move to overrule the decision (Belluck, New York Times, 4/5).

Korman called the failure to remove the restrictions "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable."

In response to the ruling, Nancy Northup, president of CRR, said, "Women all over the country will no longer face arbitrary delays and barriers just to get emergency contraception."

FDA spokesperson Erica Jefferson declined to comment (Reuters, 4/5).