Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to make the "morning after" birth control pill widely available over the counter on Wednesday. The emergency contraceptive, called Plan B One-Step, was available to women over 17, but would have been available to women 16 and under had the decision not been overruled. The initial decision by the FDA was sure become a political football during the campaign season. FDA regulators were planning to place the morning after pill on drugstore shelves next to condoms, contraceptive sponges and spermicides, and within easy reach of any person, of any age. Sebelius' decision has stopped that plan, and returned to the status quo, in which any woman older than 17 can buy the drug over-the-counter, and any woman under age 17 needs a doctor's prescription in order to buy the drug.
Susan Wood was director of the Office of Women's Health at the FDA from 2000 until 2005. She says this is just the latest development in a nearly decade-long struggle to increase access to emergency contraception, and to keep politics out of the FDA.
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