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Obama Administration Moves (Yet) Again to Undermine Young Women's Access to Plan B Emergency Contraception – Right Wing Politics Trumps Science And Women's Rights (Yet) Again

On April 4 U.S. District Judge Edward Korman issued a ruling that finally ordered that the emergency contraceptive pill known as Plan B be available to teenagers and women of all ages without a prescription. In his ruling the judge sharply criticized the decision by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to over-rule the FDA's prior approval of Plan B as “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” as well as “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent”.

Many celebrated and hoped the judge's decision would finally bring justice and help for young women needlessly suffering under these restrictions. All the Obama administration had to do was nothing. But it was not to be.

Only days later, the Obama administration made further moves to undermine, disrupt and over-turn this correct judicial decision. Through the Justice Department, it is appealing the judge's ruling.

It is worth recalling that the FDA's scientists had already thoroughly studied Plan B and found it safe and effective. (See statement below) This position has also been long supported by the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sebelius decision was a major attack on science and on women's rights.

Brushing aside the non-sense “arguments” of Sebelius and Obama about the supposed “dangers” of Plan B for 11 year olds, the Judge Korman wrote: “This case is not about the potential misuse of Plan B by 11-year-olds.” “These emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter, the number of 11-year-olds using these drugs is likely to be miniscule.… Instead, the invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11-year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.”

Believe It or Not – Taking Hypocrisy to New Heights

As the N.Y. Times reported in a May 2 editorial: “The Justice Department’s legal argument, moreover, is incoherent. In court documents, it claims that Judge Korman’s order improperly interferes with the F.D.A.’s 'scientific judgments' pertaining to the drug approval process. But it was Ms. Sebelius’s interference with science that sparked Judge Korman’s ruling in the first place."

Believe it or not the administration's court documents are with a straight face trying to claim that it is the judge's order rather than themselves that are attacking science. Really?

To further undermine the judge's decision and muddy the waters, the FDA also rushed to issue new regulations to make Plan B available to women 15 or older while still preserving restrictions for others under 15. Obama quickly spoke about how “as a parent” he is “comfortable” with this decision.

Ironies On Top Of More Ironies

It is a howling irony that Obama had just days before spoken at the National Academy of Sciences saying “but in all the sciences, we’ve got to make sure that we are supporting the idea that they’re not subject to politics, that they’re not skewed by an agenda, that, as I said before, we make sure that we go where the evidence leads us.”

And speaking of ironies, Obama also just spoke at Planned Parenthood saying: “Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you.”

Then only days later he threw young girls and women under the bus (yet) again. One blogger expressed the extreme anger many feel about this, writing: “Obama’s relationship with Planned Parenthood is like a bad marriage where the put-upon spouse has nowhere else to go.” But there is somewhere else to go – stop believing the fairy tale that you can rely on Obama to uphold science and women's rights. Promote broad defense of science and women's rights.

The bottom line is that the Obama administration is determined to put right-wing extremist politics above science and above women's reproductive rights and health.

We live in a society where today ˝ of all pregnancies are unplanned, more than 40 percent of children are born to unwed mothers and 1.2 million abortions are performed every year involving one in every 50 women of reproductive age.

We live in a society with reactionary forces hounding women, especially young women and trying to control their reproduction rights and their lives. Many among the forces that oppose emergency contraception also oppose all contraception – for example the Catholic Church opposes a mandate in the medical insurance plan that private medical insurers provide women with contraceptives for free. And many others continue to promote abstinence only sex education.

These attacks by the Obama administration cannot be allowed to stand.

read Judge Korman's full decision ...

For more on the history of this case

Obama Administration Overrules FDA Approval Of Plan B – Right Wing Politics Trumps Science Again
read this article...

From 1999 To Today: Federal Government Continues to Promote Unscientific Claims About Plan B Contraception
read this article...

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg's statement explaining it's approval of Plan B

The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) completed its review of the Plan B One-Step application and laid out its scientific determination. CDER carefully considered whether younger females were able to understand how to use Plan B One-Step.  Based on the information submitted to the agency, CDER determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the data supported a finding that adolescent females could use Plan B One-Step properly without the intervention of a healthcare provider.

It is our responsibility at FDA to approve drugs that are safe and effective for their intended use based on the scientific evidence.  The review process used by CDER to analyze the data applied a risk/benefit assessment consistent with its standard drug review process.  Our decision-making reflects a body of scientific findings, input from external scientific advisory committees, and data contained in the application that included studies designed specifically to address the regulatory standards for nonprescription drugs.  CDER experts, including obstetrician/gynecologists and pediatricians, reviewed the totality of the data and agreed that it met the regulatory standard for a nonprescription drug and that Plan B One-Step should be approved for all females of child-bearing potential.

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