President Obama said on Thursday that he supports the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow the sale of the “Plan B” emergency contraception pill to women 15 years and older, a decision many women’s rights groups say doesn’t go far enough.
“The rule that’s been put forward by the FDA, Secretary [of Health and Human Services Kathleen] Sebelius has reviewed, she’s comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it,” Obama said at a press conference during a state visit to Mexico. “The current ruling… you could phrase it as they’re allowing contraceptives to be sold over the counter for 15 year olds and over. It has not resolved the question of girls younger than 15.”
“I’m very comfortable with the decision that is being made right now based on solid scientific evidence for girls 15 and older,” Obama added.
Obama did not reiterate the position he took in 2011 which opposed the sale of emergency contraception to girls as young as 10.
“I will say this, 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 at the press conference back then. “And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able—alongside bubble gum or batteries—be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect.”
“And I think most parents would probably feel the same way,” he added.
The comments come Thursday in Mexico after the Obama administration executed a two-part move on the morning after pill this week. On the one hand the FDA approved ‘Plan B’ to be sold to girls as young as 15 and on the other hand, the agency pushed back against a federal judge’s order to sell the pill to women of all ages.
Women’s organizations praised the efforts to allow the pill to be sold to some minors, but said that it did not go far enough provide access to any woman who might need it.
“We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which participated in the lawsuit against the FDA.
The Obama administration has appealed the judge’s order to allow sale of the drug to girls younger than 15 and has asked for a stay in an effort to reduce confusion about what stores can sell and to whom.