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By Stephanie Stahl
WASHINGTON (CBS) -- In a surprise move the nation’s Health Secretary stopped Plan B, the morning-after pill, from being available to girls under the age of 17, without a prescription. The eleventh hour move came just as the FDA was expected to expand the availability. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, overruled her own experts and the FDA Advisors who wanted to make the emergency contraceptive more easily available to girls under the age of 17. The Secretary said there’s not enough evidence proving younger girls could use the product without guidance.
Nothing is changing with Plan B, the morning after pill. It will remain behind the pharmacy counter, only given to women with ID proving they’re over the age of 17. Those younger need a prescription.
“I think definitely it should remain as is, 17 and older,” said Venetta Taggart, a Philadelphia mother of three daughters. She was never in favor of making the emergency contraception more widely available.
RELATED LINK: FDA Plan B News Information
“I just can’t imagine having my 12-year-old being able to buy something Plan B over-the-counter and, ya know, without me knowing, without some type of guidance. I can’t imagine that,” said Venetta.
Plan B can prevent pregnancy if taken within three days of unprotected sex. The FDA was expected to make it available to everyone over-the-counter, but Secretary Sebelius intervened and said while safe, girls might not understand how to use it.
Conservatives are applauding the decision, but not Women’s Health Advocates.
“As an Ob-Gyn and a father of a daughter, I find this decision to be really mind-boggling. I mean, it makes no sense whatsoever,” said Dr. Jacques Mortiz, an Ob-Gyn.
Like many doctors, Dr. William Schlaff, the Chair of Ob-Gyn at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, feels easier, quicker access to contraception is important, especially for younger women.
“Unintended pregnancies continue to be a huge problem in this country,” said Dr. Schlaff.
The maker of Plan B issued a statement saying in part, “we are outraged that this administration has let politics trump science.”