New Court Order Lifts Age Limit on Some Morning After Pills

In another confusing twist in the back-and-forth battle of emergency contraception availability, a federal appeals court in New York ordered that some versions of the morning after pill be made available over-the-counter to women of all ages—for now. Which is good news! (For now.)

On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered that the federal government lift all age and sales restrictions on just the two-pill versions of emergency contraception for the time being, until the court makes its final ruling on an appeal by the federal government.

The law surrounding the availability of emergency contraception has changed a number of times in the past two months. Back in April, a federal judge ordered the drug to be made available without a prescription to women of all ages. The next day, the Obama administration appealed that ruling, seeking age restrictions. Then the FDA came back with its own ruling that Plan B One-Step—but not other one-pill brands—be available for women 15 and over who are required to show ID for proof of age. As it stands right now, two-pill versions and all but one brand of one-pill versions are available without a prescription to women 17 and older.

The court battles have seemingly revolved around the moral issue of making the drug available to all women, as scientists have long argued that it is safer than other OTC drugs, including acetaminophen. It appears that they also think that young women aren't capable of making their own decisions or can be trusted to read instructions on a box, as the F.D.A. has said that "more studies would be required to show that girls under age 17 could understand how to take two pills instead of just one."

Judge Orders All Restrictions Lifted on Some ‘Morning-After’ Pills [NYT]