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NY federal judge says he's willing to hear arguments over pregnancy pill age restrictions
NEW YORK (AP) ' A federal judge in New York City said Tuesday he is willing to hear arguments over whether the Food and Drug Administration should have to allow the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception to girls younger than 17.
Judge Edward Korman told the Center for Reproductive Rights to file the appropriate legal motions during a hearing on whether the government acted constitutionally in its decisions over the access teenage girls should have to morning-after pills.
The hearing came just a week after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and announced that the pills would only be available without prescription to those 17 and older who can prove their age. President Barack Obama said he supported the decision regarding a pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken soon enough after unprotected sex.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which has a pending lawsuit against FDA over the morning-after pill restrictions and other groups have argued that contraceptives are being held to a different and non-scientific standard than other drugs and that politics has played a role in decision making. Social conservatives have said the pill is tantamount to abortion.
Korman was highly critical of the government's handling of the issue when he ordered the FDA two years ago to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication. At the time, he accused the government of letting "political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for decision-making" cloud the approval process.
In deciding to limit the over-the-counter availability of the drug, Sebelius said she had concluded that the data submitted for the pill did not establish that prescription dispensing requirements should be eliminated for all ages.
She said the studies submitted to the government did not include data on all ages.
"Yet, it is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to non-prescription availability of this product for all ages," she said.