A Solid Decision

Published on December 8th, 2011

By Kathleen M. Gallagher

On December 7, 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius denied the federal Food and Drug Administration approval to market the “morning-after pill” known as “Plan B” as a non-prescription drug for young girls.  The FDA had apparently been ready to lift its current “prescription-only” restriction on distribution of the drug to girls under age 17. The Secretary overruled that, and noted that “there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age.”

Amen to that.  Yet here in New York there continue to be efforts to circumvent the federal restriction on the distribution of so-called “emergency contraception.”  Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Liz Krueger (A.85/S.892) would eliminate the patient-specific physician prescription requirement for the “morning-after pill” for girls under age 17, enabling them to purchase the drugs at any drugstore or obtain them from a school nurse, without any parental knowledge or doctor’s supervision.

This means girls in our state as young as 11 or 12 years old would be empowered to access these powerful drugs without parental knowledge or physician oversight, undermining parental rights and potentially putting young girls at risk.

As a matter of state law, many products sold by pharmacies, e.g. tobacco and non-prescription cough-cold products, are restricted to consumers 18 years of age and older.  There should not be an exception for the sale of “Plan B,” powerful hormones that can destroy early embryos and endanger the lives of young girls.

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