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December 7, 2011

HHS Decision on Plan B® a Blow to Sound Science and Young Women’s Health

Obama administration’s decision at odds with medical experts, misses opportunity to help prevent teen pregnancy

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, expressed profound disappointment with the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ decision to overrule a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to follow medical experts’ recommendations and thus remove a restriction on the Plan B® emergency contraceptive.

“Experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics long ago recommended that this emergency contraceptive medication be available for women of all ages,” Keenan said.  “We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end. The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what’s in the best interest of women’s health. In short, this is a failure to deliver change.”

Keenan also said that the Bush administration-imposed barrier requiring those under 18 to get a prescription and find a pharmacist who is willing to dispense was unworkable. For example, the rule poses a terrible problem for a young woman who is a survivor of rape or incest and does not have the option of talking with her parents if she is from a violent home or was attacked by a relative. Under the Bush-era policy, some teens simply lose access to the medication - and likely face unintended pregnancies as a result.

“We expected this kind of action from the Bush administration, so it’s doubly disheartening and unacceptable that this administration chose to follow this path,” Keenan said. “We had a major opportunity to improve young women’s access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce the need for abortion, and the Obama administration missed the mark.”

Please find additional information about emergency contraception, including ways it can help prevent teen pregnancy on our website.

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