Plan B: HHS Prevents Morning After Pill From Hitting Drug Store Shelves

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Plan B Request Stirs Debate

Dr. Lee Vermeulen, clinical professor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy, said that much of the protest against or advocacy for the decision to expand the availability of Plan B depends on how a person feels about the reproductive freedoms and the rights of adolescents and young adults.

"If one believes that only women who are 17 and older have the right to decide whether or not they get pregnant, then there is clearly no reason to lift the age restriction," Vermeulen said in February. "If one believes that any woman of child-bearing age should have the right to choose for themselves, it would be necessary to recognize that women under 17 are biologically able to conceive, and therefore the age restriction should be lifted."

But many argue that it is not the FDA's place to weigh in on judgments and ethics, but only on the safety and efficacy of the drug.

"I am not aware of any clinical reasons why this product would be unsafe or ineffective in women under 17," Vermeulen said. "The medications used in this product are used in oral contraceptives, which are prescribed safely to women under 17."

But some doctors are worried easier access to the morning after pill will mean fewer teens practicing safe sex.

"The greatest hazard I see is that under-17s would begin to use Plan B as a kind of ex post facto birth control method," said Dr. Henry Miller, a Robert Wesson Fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford University. "That would be undesirable, because they should be using barrier contraception to prevent sexually transmitted diseases."

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