Federal Judge Rules Morning-After Pill Must Be Available over the Counter

Published 04/05 2013 09:49AM

Updated 04/05 2013 09:51AM

A federal judge ruled Friday that the morning-after pill known as Plan B must be made available over the counter for women of all ages. 

The decision on the controversial subject comes after lengthy legal battles over who should have access to the pill and at what age. 

The Food and Drug Administration had initially decided to allow the emergency pill to be available for young teens. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA in late 2011, and the agency limited availability without a prescription to women 17 and older.  

The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make the pill, commonly referred to as the abortion pill, available for all ages. 

Korman accused the FDA of "intolerable delays" in reviewing a petition seeking broad access to the drug, likening the process to an "administrative agency filibuster." 

"The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency's misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the FDA to engage in further delays and obstruction," he wrote. 

The judge ordered the change to be completed in a month. The opinion is sure to rile conservatives and other pro-life groups, who consider the morning-after pill -- in many cases -- to act as an abortion-inducing drug. 

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