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Judge Rules: Morning-After Pill for All Females

Until now, girls 16 and younger needed a prescription for the emergency contraception
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Minority women in the United States often face significant barriers to health care and suffer from the highest rates of unintended pregnancies, White said.

But not everyone was pleased with Korman's ruling.

"This is a political decision, made by those who stand to profit financially from an action that puts ideology ahead of the nation's girls and young women," said Janice Shaw Crouse, director and senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for the conservative women's group Concerned Women for America.

"It is irresponsible to advocate over-the-counter use of these high-potency drugs, which would make them available to anyone -- including those predators who exploit young girls," Shaw Crouse said.

In his ruling, Korman was dismissive of the government's arguments and, in particular, previous decisions by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that required girls under 17 to get a prescription for the emergency contraceptive. Korman wrote that Sebelius' actions "with respect to Plan B One-Step . . . were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."

In 2011, Sebelius overruled a recommendation by the FDA to make the drug available to all women without a prescription. The FDA said at the time that it had well-supported scientific evidence that Plan B One-Step is a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Sebelius, however, said she was concerned that very young girls couldn't properly understand how to use the drug without assistance from an adult.

She invoked her authority under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and directed FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to issue "a complete response letter." As a result, "the supplement for nonprescription use in females under the age of 17 is not approved," Hamburg wrote at the time.

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