(USA TODAY) A federal judge in New York has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the "morning-after" pill available without prescription to girls of all ages.
The ruling overturns a decision in 2011 by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that barred over-the-counter sales of the controversial pill to girls under 17. Sebelius' decision itself had overruled an FDA recommendation to widen availability
The pill, popularly known as "Plan B," typically works up to 72 hours after intercourse.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, of Brooklyn, said his order must be carried out within a month.
He criticized the FDA for failing to engage in rulemaking to adopt an age-restricted marketing regime. He saids the plaintiffs, reproductive-rights organizations, should not be forced to endure -- and the agency's misconduct should not be rewarded -- for its "delay and obstruction."
Korman said the case isn't about the potential misuse of the so-called morning-after pill by 11-year-olds. He said the contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter. He said the number of 11-year-olds likely to use the drugs was minuscule.
Last year, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendedthat oral contraceptives be sold over the counter without a prescription to help lower the nation's high unintended pregnancy rate.
The pill has been widely available for several years in Europe and Latin America.
Contributing: Associated Press
Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY