In an unexpected victory for women's rights advocates, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill (known as "Plan B") available to people of any age without a prescription. The order overturned a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require a prescription for girls under 17.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Opponents of prescription requirements say prescriptions can delay access to the drug.
"Today science has finally prevailed over politics," Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. "This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods." The American Society for Reproductive Medicine also supported the
decision, applauding the stance that "science should guide policy."