WASHINGTON - National women's groups and pro-choice advocates were aghast yesterday as the Obama administration overturned an FDA opinion allowing better access to family planning contraceptives.
Women's health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular "morning after" emergency contraceptive "Plan B One Step" should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.
"As doctors and researchers have repeatedly stated, ample research shows Plan B to be safe for women of all ages and appropriate for over-the-counter access. It is deeply disappointing that this administration would repeat the mistakes of the previous one," said Susan Wood, an associate professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health. Wood was an assistant commissioner for women's health at the FDA but quit in 2005 over its continued delay on over-the-counter approval for Plan B.
Moving beyond disappointment to outrage, Terry O'Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, called the decision a 'betrayal':
It is an unusual and infuriating move for the Obama administration to overrule that decision, especially at a time when rumors are flying that the president is on the brink of caving in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by expanding religiously affiliated employers' ability to deny contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act.
NOW calls on the president to stop playing politics with the lives of women and girls. During the Bush years, women's reproductive health was under constant attack. We don't need more of the same from the Obama administration.
NARAL Pro-Choice America's Nancy Keenan echoed the outrage:
We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end. The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what’s in the best interest of women’s health. In short, this is a failure to deliver change.