A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that the FDA must make the "morning-after" pill available over the counter for all ages, rather than requiring a prescription for girls 16 and under. This ruling is the latest breakthrough in a decade-long argument about who should have access to this birth control and under what circumstances.
It also offsets the actions of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who counteracted the FDA's recommendation that the pill be available for people of all ages without a prescription. At this most recent case, Sebelius and the FDA were jointly represented by attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department; they argued there was not enough scientific evidence that girls under 17 were able to use the morning-after pill safely and effectively on their own.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives (like the Plan-B One Step, "morning-after" pill) could be sold over the counter and without a prescription. Most European countries and Canada require prescriptions for oral contraceptives, but many other countries sell and distribute the pill without a prescription.