AAUW Disappointed by Decision on Emergency Contraception

December 09, 2011

Plan B One-StepAAUW was seriously disappointed by the Obama administration’s Wednesday decision, directly defended by the president, to block the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of selling emergency contraception to women without restriction. Along with the rest of the women’s rights community, AAUW expected the Obama administration to approve the over-the-counter sale of Plan B contraception — commonly referred to as the morning-after pill — without requiring a prescription. We are disheartened by this decision, especially since it seems to contradict the administration’s stated commitment to following science instead of politics when making decisions. Yet, as a statement from the director of the FDA makes clear, this decision was based on politics, not science.

Approved for use by the FDA in 1997, emergency contraception, or Plan B, prevents pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. In March 2009, a federal judge in New York ordered the FDA to reconsider its previous decision to limit nonprescription access to emergency contraception to women ages 18 and older, asserting that the entire process had been influenced by “political and ideological” considerations imposed by the Bush administration. This decision made emergency contraception available over the counter  to women 17 and older only. The FDA’s decision this week concerned whether to retain or lift this restriction, a change that AAUW supported.

AAUW encourages efforts to increase education about and access to emergency contraception for all women, including minors, and believes emergency contraception should be available without prescriptions or restrictions. Greater awareness of and improved access to emergency contraception could help reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States. AAUW supports the right of every woman to obtain medically accurate information about and access to safe and comprehensive reproductive health services. This is also why AAUW supports comprehensive sex education programs. The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in the developed world.

The decision appears to be part of a worrying pattern from the Obama administration on women’s reproductive rights. For example, 2011 appropriations — at the president’s behest — reinstated the ban on Washington, D.C.’s, use of its own taxpayer money to fund abortions for low-income women. Additionally, the administration still has not fully rescinded the Bush-era “conscience clause” regulations, which allow health care providers to deny necessary medical care to women. Officials may also approve regulations that let certain employers deny contraceptive coverage to more than 1 million women who were guaranteed this coverage under the health care reform law.

AAUW has supported choice in women’s reproductive decisions since 1935. We need President Obama to do so as well.

Update June 21, 2013: In what will likely be the final event in a long chain of decisions celebrated by health care advocates, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the nonprescription sale of Plan B One-Step emergency contraception without age restrictions.

By:   |   December 09, 2011

6 Comments

  1. bethscott123 says:

    AAUW’s not the only group fired up about this decision. Others, such as Planned Parenthood, have requested a meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to express their disappointment and anger. You can see their letter at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/12_8_11_Cecile_Richards.pdf.

  2. I’m a mother of one 9 year old girl and I am pregnant with twin girls. I’m all for woman rights but I wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up start having sex and be ok with going to a pharmacy and get plan B without telling me. I think that we are going too far when we take away the parent child relationship.

    I remember being about 12 or 13 going to Kaiser to the teen side for the first time, having my mother with me and the doctor asking me if I wanted my mother in the exam room. I was like yes and thought it was a very odd question.

    I understand our children in the long run will do what they want, but as we continue to give our young ones more decisions then they really can handle alone, we are asking for trouble.

    If you support plan B. I support once a young girl starts menstruating, to have birth control implanted in her arm until the age of 18. Until she can then make her own decision. That would cut down on pregnancies, plan b, adoptions, and a list of other things.

  3. Oma says:

    The insurance companies don’t have a problem with allowing Viagra to be covered. Again, if it’s a woman’s problem, then it is not really a priority issue. “They get what they deserve.” Why is there not a campaign for vasectomies for the perpetrators?

  4. Dorothy McBride says:

    I’m glad that AAUW has taken a stand on this issue. At the same time there is a larger issue at stake and that is the 2012 election. Every decision the Obama administration delivers will be absorbed by the partisan debate. If one wants reproductive rights to be secure and expand, there will be a clear choice in November.

  5. [...] Once again, politics have trumped science, and it’s women and girls who pay the price. This decision ignores their needs as well as the scientific consensus that emergency contraception (the so-called morning-after pill or Plan B) is safe. I’m tired of the rhetoric and hyperbole. I’m tired of women and girls being prevented from accessing health care that is proven to be safe and effective. I’m tired of politicians who think it’s just dandy for them to insert their personal judgment while ignoring the realities of women’s lives. We should all be sick and tired of having to fight for our reproductive rights. Women of any age shouldn’t be denied access to medically necessary and proven care, or prevented from making reproductive decisions within the dictates of their own moral or religious codes. It’s as simple as that. [...]

  6. [...] Once again, politics have trumped science, and it’s women and girls who pay the price. This decision ignores their needs as well as the scientific consensus that emergency contraception (the so-called morning-after pill or Plan B) is safe. I’m tired of the rhetoric and hyperbole. I’m tired of women and girls being prevented from accessing health care that is proven to be safe and effective. I’m tired of politicians who think it’s just dandy for them to insert their personal judgment while ignoring the realities of women’s lives. We should all be sick and tired of having to fight for our reproductive rights. Women of any age shouldn’t be denied access to medically necessary and proven care, or prevented from making reproductive decisions within the dictates of their own moral or religious codes. It’s as simple as that. [...]

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