WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday appealed a federal judge’s order to lift all age limits on who can buy morning-after birth control pills without a prescription.
The decision came a day after the Food and Drug Administration had lowered the age that people can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription to 15 — younger than the current limit of 17 — and decided that the pill could be sold on drugstore shelves near the condoms, instead of locked behind pharmacy counters.
With the appeal, the government is making clear that it’s willing to ease access to emergency contraception not nearly as broadly as doctors’ groups and contraception advocates have urged.
The order by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York would allow girls and women of any age to buy not only Plan B but its cheaper generic competition as easily as they can buy aspirin. Korman gave the FDA 30 days to comply, and the Monday deadline was approaching fast.
In Wednesday’s filing, the Justice Department said Korman exceeded his authority and that his decision should be suspended while that appeal is under way.
“We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit that prompted Korman’s ruling.