Women’s Groups Incensed Over Obama Morning-After Pill Decision

By ABC News

Dec 9, 2011 1:15pm
gty barack obama kathleen sebelius ll 111209 wblog Womens Groups Incensed Over Obama Morning After Pill Decision

Shawn Thew/Pool/Bloomberg/Getty Images

ABC News’ Cecilia Vega reports:

Some of the same women who helped President Barack Obama win the White House in 2008 now say they may be angry enough to stay home in 2012 in the wake of a controversial decision to block the over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill to girls.

“My computer was burning up with people saying, ‘I am done,’” said Judy Waxman, vice-president of health and reproductive rights for the National Women’s Law Center. “The fury is really unmatched in anything I have seen.”

Obama told reporters yesterday he supports an unprecedented decision by U.S. health secretary Kathleen Sebelius to overrule the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to allow the contraceptive pill, also called Plan B One-Step, to be sold without a prescription to people under 17.

“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.

The president said Sebelius could not be confident that a 10- or 11-year old would not walk into a drugstore and buy Plan B “alongside bubblegum or batteries.” He said he did not speak directly with her before she overruled the FDA.

That decision—and the president’s comments– infuriated some women’s groups.

“His statements about Plan B yesterday are condescending. They’re disempowering and frankly they communicate sex discrimination,” said Erin Matson, National Organization for Women vice president. “In saying that he thinks he knows what’s best for women …  and then [he] goes on to trivialize emergency contraceptives … What we are talking about is women who have up to 72 hours to prevent a pregnancy that they do not want.”

If taken soon after unprotected sex, the drug significantly reduces the chance of pregnancy.

Matson said the decision is “much more like what you would see out of the George Bush administration.”

In 2008, Obama won 56 percent of the women’s vote, 13 points more than Republican Sen. John McCain, according to the national exit poll.

And according to a recent Gallup poll, 45% of women approve of Obama’s job performance, compared with 40 percent of men.

But Waxman, of the National Women’s Law Center, where Obama addressed a sold-out crowd last month, said women could still be angry come next November.

“I am concerned that this is his base,” she said. “We hear lots of noise about how women could determine this next election. Certainly women in his base and the type of women he’s going for, and independent women are not happy with this decision.”

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