Girls of all ages will now be able to purchase the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive pill without prescription, the Obama government announced on Monday.
Government attorneys, in papers filed in federal court in New York, said that the age restriction on the contraceptive would be removed, pending approval by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman.
This change in the administration's stance comes after the Justice Department faced several setbacks in federal courts following attempts to set an age limit to buy the Plan B morning-after birth control drug without a prescription, a senior administrative official who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, said.
However, Obama still opposes over-the-counter access to contraceptives for young girls, the official noted. Obama had made it clear in the past that he is worried about young girls buying morning-after pills as easily as "bubble gums and batteries."
Monday’s announcement was cheered by advocates of birth control who called it a historic moment for women’s health.
“This is a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement quoted by the Post.
Richards added that the decision “will make emergency contraception available on store shelves, just like condoms, and women of all ages will be able to get it quickly in order to prevent unintended pregnancy.”
Annie Tummino, coordinator of the National Women's Liberation, hailed the decision pointing out that girls should have the right to control their bodies without seeking permission from a doctor or a pharmacist, Fox News reported.
The Food and Drug Administration has asked the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., (NYSE:TEVA) to submit an application to make the drug available over the counter.