Birth control and its impact is back in the news. A battle has been ongoing for over a decade about who should have access to the morning after pill, and under what terms and circumstances should the pill be available. As of now, a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, has issued a ruling that the United States government must make the morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages. The ruling is broad in its coverage of all ages, rather than the previous requirement which required that the pill, for girls 16 and under, must be available solely by prescription. Today’s ruling is the result of a lawsuit brought by reproductive-rights groups that sought to eliminate the age restrictions on emergency birth control.
Previously, the Food and Drug Administration had recommended that pill should be made available for all ages without a prescription, but in 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s recommendation. At the time, Ms. Sebelius stated: “”It is commonly understood that there are significant behavioral and cognitive differences between older and adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age which I believe are relevant to making this determination.” Today, the judge said that the rejection of requests to remove age restrictions to obtain the pill had been “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
The ruling represents a blow to those continuing the ‘War on Women‘ and women’s reproductive choices, but the battle is far from over as access to options in the event of an unwanted pregnancy have become narrower on a state-by-state basis.