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‘Morning after’ pill will be available to girls, 17




WASHINGTON

The Food and Drug Administration said it would accept, not appeal, a federal judge’s order that lifts restrictions limiting over-the-counter sales of “Plan B” to women 18 and older.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled last month in a lawsuit filed in New York that former President George W. Bush’s appointees had let politics, not science, drive their decision to restrict over-the-counter access.

Women’s groups said the FDA’s action was long overdue, since the agency’s own medical reviewers had initially recommended that the contraceptive be made available without any age restrictions.

Korman ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds get the birth control pills. He also directed the agency to evaluate clinical data to determine whether all age restrictions should be lifted.

The FDA’s latest action does not mean that Plan B will be immediately available to 17-year-olds. The manufac- turer must first submit a request.

Plan B is emergency contraception that contains a high dose of birth control drugs and will not interfere with an established pregnancy. It works by preventing ovulation or fertilization. In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus.

If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce a woman’s chances of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent.

Critics of the contraceptive say Plan B is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Recent research suggests that’s possible but not likely.


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