Obama administration drops objection to Plan B ruling

The Takeaway

Plan B One-Step, the most popular emergency contraceptive, is now available for purchase by women of any age.

The Obama administration announced on Monday that it would no longer block the over-the-counter availability of the morning-after pill for girls and women of all ages. 

All women are now able to purchase Plan B One-Step, a single pill that will prevent pregnancy up to 72-hours after sexual intercourse, in any pharmacy without a prescription.

"You cannot overdoes on it and at $50 a dose, I think it's highly unlikely people will take more than the recommended dosage," said Dr. Susan Wood, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health from 2000-2005. "But even if you did, it would have no adverse effect. And if you happen to already be pregnant it will not interrupt an established pregnancy."

Susan Wood

Wood resigned during the Bush administration when it indefinitely delayed a decision regarding emergency contraceptives being sold over the counter.  

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been fighting this move on the grounds that the science hadn't yet been proven that the drug is safe for girls as young as 11.

But in April, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the FDA again to lift its ban on over-the-counter Plan B for women 16 and under, calling the federal government's objections politically motivated and not based on science.

The FDA released a statement Monday night saying it would no longer appeal the court ruling.

“To comply with the order, the FDA. has asked the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step to submit a supplemental application seeking approval of the one-pill product to be made available (over the counter) without any such restrictions. Once FDA receives that supplemental application, the FDA intends to approve it promptly,” the statement read.

The president originally cited his discomfort with potentially enabling young girls to be more sexually active, even more so because he has two daughters of his own. 

"As the father of two daughters, 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 in December 2011. 

It is unclear why the president has changed his mind, but Wood is confident it's the right decision.

"As the parent of a teenage daugher, I understand the nervousness about one's daugters or sons being involved in early sexual activity," Wood said, "What we have here is a situation where if a situation arises that we don't forsee or don't want to happen, we have a chance to prevent an unwanted pregnancy."