Federal Court Showdown Set Over Obama Administration’s Handling of Pregnancy Pill

A federal judge in Brooklyn is poised to
hear arguments Tuesday over whether the federal government is acting
constitutionally in its decisions over the access teenage girls are
given to morning-after contraceptive pills.


The arguments come
just a week after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
overruled scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and announced
that the pills would only be available without prescription to those 17
and older who can prove their age. President Barack Obama said he
supported the decision regarding a pill that can prevent pregnancy if
taken soon enough after unprotected sex.

The
Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups have argued that
contraceptives are being held to a different and non-scientific standard
than other drugs and that politics has played a role in decision
making. Social conservatives have said the pill is tantamount to
abortion.

Judge Edward Korman was highly
critical of the government’s handling of the issue when he ordered the
FDA two years ago to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication. At the
time, he accused the government of letting “political considerations,
delays and implausible justifications for decision-making” cloud the
approval process.

In court papers prior to
Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Landau said the
government had complied with Korman’s orders by lowering the cutoff for
over-the-counter sales of the drug from 18 to 17.

He said the plaintiffs “unfairly accuse FDA of bad faith and delay.”

In
deciding to limit the over-the-counter availability of the drug,
Sebelius said she had concluded that the data submitted for the pill did
not establish that prescription dispensing requirements should be
eliminated for all ages.

She said the studies submitted to the government did not include data on all ages.

“Yet,
it is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and
behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest
girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this
determination as to non-prescription availability of this product for
all ages,” she said.

Source: The Associated Press