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Court demands expanded access to morning-after pill

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In the Obama administration's first term, officials made some historic strides when it came to contraception access, but there was one important misstep. In December 2011, the administration overruled the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, ignored the available science, and said Plan B-One Step, the so-called "morning after pill," will not be available over the counter to anyone under the age of 17.

It was the wrong call, which was largely inexplicable in light of all the correct calls the administration has made on this issue. This morning, the decision was undone by a federal court.

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the "morning-after" emergency contraception pill available without a prescription to all girls of reproductive age.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, comes in a lawsuit brought by reproductive-rights groups that had sought to remove age and other restrictions on emergency contraception.

Korman described the FDA's rejection of requests to remove age restrictions to obtain the pill had been "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." The ruling added that the 2011 decision from HHS was "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent."

All of those criticisms, incidentally, have the benefit of being true.

The district court ruling ordered the FDA to lift the existing restrictions within 30 days, though whether that actually happens will be based at least in part on whether the administration appeals.