Women’s health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular “morning after” emergency contraceptive “Plan B One Step” should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.
That’s from an NPR story on the response of women’s groups to the ruling by HHS head Sebelius. Many others have weighed in via various forums since the ruling. What gives? Is the decision politically motivated? Or was it because Sebelius actually believed in the rightness of her objection enough that she should overrule the FDA, something that’s apparently not at all usual practice?
Here are some quotes from an MSNBC Vitals blog article about the issue, from a major ethicist and from a leader in pediatric care:
“In facing a tough call, HHS has put politics over science when it comes to sex,” said Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and a frequent contributor to msnbc.com.
Dr. Robert Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, called the decision “medically inexplicable,” saying that it defies strong data that shows emergency contraception is safe and effective for girls and women of all ages.
President Obama has come out in support of the decision by Sebelius, as described on The Maddow Blog:
“I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Obama said during an impromptu news conference at the White House.
He said Sebelius decided 10- and 11-year-olds should not be able to buy the drug “alongside bubble gum or batteries” because it could have an adverse effect if not used properly. He said “most parents” probably feel the same way.
And, to take it down to the level of who’s going to be really affected by this, here’s an excerpt from a Huffington Post article on the topic (the source of the Twitter post at the top of this blog post). The author describes telling a personal story about the matter via Twitter feed:
What a shame. Going through my twitter feed earlier today (R.I.P. Google Reader!), I came across this oral history of Plan B at GOOD. It reminded me of a story of my own from a few years ago. I was with my family, on our annual beach vacation in South Carolina, and ended up buying Plan B for a terrified teenage couple. I told the story on twitter…
We’ve heard from nurses who are upset and worried by the decision. But what’s your take? Will we be seeing more teenage pregnancies as a result? What other effects are health care providers likely to see?—JM, senior editor/blog editor