Thursday, December 8, 2011

Morning-After Pill: Contrasting News

President Obama defended HHS Secretary Sebelius's decision yesterday to override the FDA's recommendation that morning-after contraceptive pills like Plan B be made available over-the-counter to women and girls of any age. Critics were accusing Obama of having directed the override in order to avoid controversy during the upcoming election. Obama today said that he wasn't in on the decision, but that he approved of it, "as the father of two daughters." As a result of the override, the drug will remain behind pharmacy counters, available without a prescription only to women over 17 years of age. Proponents of the FDA's plan saw its main advantage in putting the drug out on the pharmacy floor, where sexually active women could easily locate it, rather than in making it available to young girls; one expert observed that "not many 11-year-old girls" go into drugstores to buy anything, let alone single pills that cost $50.

Meanwhile in the UK the British Pregnancy Advisory Service is offering to make morning-after pills available free to women over 17 via post, after a preliminary telephone interview with a nurse ensures that they understand the pill's use. The charitable organization, which is the UK's largest abortion provider, is urging women to stock up in advance of the holidays, when unwanted pregnancies occur with higher-than-average frequency. The pills are sold online and in pharmacies to girls and women over 16, and are widely available, free of charge, in doctors' offices and NHS clinics.

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