KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama ‘Comfortable’ With Morning-After Pill Sales At 15

President Barack Obama said he is "very comfortable" with the Food and Drug Administration rule announced this week to make the so-called morning-after pill available without a prescription to women and girls who are at least 15 -- younger than the current policy of 17. He also defended the Justice Department's decision to appeal a judge's ruling to make the Plan B pill available to all ages.

Los Angeles Times: Obama 'Very Comfortable' With Age Restriction On 'Morning After' Pill
President Obama says he's "very comfortable" with a Food and Drug Administration ruling that maintains age restrictions on females who can buy the so-called morning after pill without a prescription. The rule announced this week prohibits girls younger than 15 from buying the drug, known as Plan B, over the counter. The decision was made by the FDA and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Obama said, pushing back against women's groups that have suggested the White House has interjected its political concern about a touchy subject into the rule process (Hennessey, 5/2).

Politico: President Obama Defends Plan B Appeal
President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration's decision to appeal a judge's ruling that the Plan B morning-after pill should be available to women and girls of all ages, saying he was "very comfortable" with the Food and Drug Administration's current rule. Obama said the agency was likely to conduct an additional review, but would go forward with the appeal nonetheless (Epstein, 5/3).

The Associated Press: Obama OK With Morning-After Pill Sales At Age 15
President Barack Obama said Thursday he was comfortable with his administration's decision to allow over-the-counter purchases of a morning-after pill for anyone 15 and older. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday had lowered the age at which people can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription to 15 - younger than the current limit of 17. The FDA decided that the pill could be sold on drugstore shelves near condoms, instead of locked behind pharmacy counters (Pace, 5/3).

Los Angeles Times: Plan B One-Step Debate Continues
Confused by the wrangling in federal court over the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive? You're not the only one. As U.S. attorneys work hastily to halt a federal judge's order regarding the sale of the so-called morning-after pill, medical and reproductive rights groups weighed in on the hot-button controversy, which mixes issues of drug safety, social mores and politics (Morin, 5/2).

National Journal: After the Obama Administration's Morning-After Pill Decision
The administration’s decisions—to fight a judge’s ruling that would make the drug called Plan B freely available, while approving a new application that would allow girls as young as 15 to buy it over the counter—may appear to be a good political compromise. But it has infuriated reproductive rights activists, and groups of doctors and scientists, who feel that drug policy should not be influenced by political considerations (Sanger-Katz, 5/2).

Reuters: Obama Comfortable With FDA Decision To Let 15-Year-Olds Buy Morning-After Pill
President Barack Obama said on Thursday he is comfortable with a U.S. government agency's decision to allow over-the-counter purchases of a morning-after pill for anyone 15 and older. Some critics have complained girls that young should not be allowed to purchase the pills without a doctor's approval. But Obama told a news conference in Mexico City that the decision was based on "solid scientific evidence” (Holland, 5/2).

The Hill: Obama ‘Very Comfortable’ With Lowered Age For ‘Morning-After’ Pill
Obama said he understood that there was "solid scientific evidence" that the contraception was safe for girls of that age. "I think it's very important that women have control over their healthcare choices and when they are starting a family," Obama said. The president also defended the Justice Department's decision, announced late Wednesday, to appeal a federal court ruling that made the pill available to girls of all ages without a prescription. Obama maintained that both the appeal and the FDA rule were decisions made without the involvement of the White House (Sink, 5/2).

Reuters: Most Women Back Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pill
Close to two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter, according to a new nationally-representative survey. In addition, about 30 percent of women using either no birth control or a less effective method - such as condoms - said they would likely take the Pill if it was sold without a prescription, researchers found. … About 31 percent of participants each said they were "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of women being able to buy birth control pills without a prescription, according to findings published in the journal Contraception (Pittman, 5/2).

Miami Herald: FDA Rule On Morning-After Pill Draws Strong Reaction
On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration ordered retailers to offer the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step as an over-the-counter option — the latest ruling in a long battle, both legal and social, about the rights of women to have access to the drug. Before now, the pill, which is used after sexual intercourse to help prevent pregnancy, was available to women ages 17 and older without a prescription, but the medication was kept behind drugstore counters. The FDA’s decision came weeks after a federal judge ordered that over-the-counter emergency contraception be made available to females of any age — a ruling the Obama administration is appealing. Even with many practical questions still unanswered and the specter of more court rulings looming, reaction has been passionate on both sides of the issue (Burch, 5/2).

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