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No More Delays for EC: 2nd Circuit Partially Denies Federal Government’s Request to Delay Bringing Emergency Contraception Over the Counter

(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has to immediately comply with U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman’s court order to make two-pill versions of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions, according to an order from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued today in response to the federal government’s request to stay the April 5 order pending an appeal.

The appellate court’s decision has stayed Korman’s order as it applies to one pill products, such as Plan B One-Step pending the outcome of the government’s appeal.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today’s decision from the 2nd Circuit marks an historic day for women’s health. Finally, after more than a decade of politically motivated delays, women will no longer have to endure intrusive, onerous, and medically unnecessary restrictions to get emergency contraception.

“Medical experts, the FDA’s own scientists, and a federal court have all agreed: there are no medical grounds to keep emergency contraception behind the counter for any woman.

“Expanding access to this safe and effective way of preventing pregnancy after failed birth control or unprotected sex is the among the very best decisions our federal government can make for women’s health.”

The Obama Administration appealed Korman’s decision earlier this month, one day after the FDA approved one brand, Plan B One-Step, to be sold over-the-counter to women ages 15 and up—but only in stores that have an on-site pharmacy and if the woman can prove her age. Contrary to the government’s assertions, this new marketing scheme does not significantly alleviate the unnecessary restrictions on emergency contraception—which is most effective the when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or failed birth control—that can prevent women from timely access.

The Center reopened Tummino v. Hamburg in February 2012 along with Andrea Costello of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and Kirsten Clanton of Southern Legal Counsel on behalf of grassroots feminist activists with National Women's Liberation and 15-year-old Anaya Kelly. The Center also represents the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and parents who seek over-the-counter access for their daughters in the case.