'Irresponsible' Decision

The Food and Drug Administration “acted irresponsibly” with its decision to lower the age limit from 17 to 15 for purchasing an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive, said an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “No public health consideration justifies the unsupervised sale of such drugs to young teens,” said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S.C.C.B.’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Plan B One-Step now will be sold openly on pharmacy shelves, while generic brands will still be sold under pharmacy counters and only to people 17 years of age or older. A ruling by a federal judge in early April said the F.D.A. must make emergency contraceptives available to all ages by May 6. The Justice Department announced on May 1 that it is appealing this decision, arguing that the judge who issued the ruling had exceeded his authority. The appeal and a request for an injunction will not affect the F.D.A.’s April 30 decision to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold without a prescription to 15-year-olds.

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