As White House Cuts Healthcare Deal Sanctioning Unjust Abortion Funding Ban, FDA Fails to Take Action One Year after Court Decision on Emergency Contraception

Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights calls on the Food and Drug Administration to finally follow a federal court’s order and make the morning-after pill available without a prescription to all ages. One year ago today, a New York federal court found that the FDA’s previous decisions around over-the-counter access to emergency contraception were based in politics and ideology, not science. The court ordered the agency to go back and consider making the drug available to all ages. However, to date no progress has been made on that front.

“This past weekend, the White House turned its back on women, sanctioning a cruel and unjust federal policy that denies poor women across the country access to medically necessary abortions. Given the ground that women lost in the healthcare debate over access to abortion, it is now even more important that the administration step up its efforts to increase access to contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Obama Administration made a promise to restore scientific integrity to federal agencies. The FDA’s continued inaction on decisions that were clearly made with a political agenda in mind are simply unacceptable.”

The Center filed a challenge against the FDA in 2005 in the case Tummino v. von Eschenbach for the agency’s failure to make Plan B available without a prescription to all ages. Months of testimony by senior agency officials and documents reviewed during the discovery process revealed that the Bush administration sought to unduly influence the Plan B application review process. Our case demonstrated that the FDA had never restricted a non-prescription drug based on age, nor had the Bush administration ever been consulted before by the FDA about an over-the-counter drug application. Last year, the federal judge hearing the case found that the FDA “acted in bad faith and in response to political pressure” and “departed in significant ways from the normal procedures.”

As part of its grassroots efforts, today the Center also released a new video calling on supporters to contact the FDA and demand that the agency take court-ordered action on emergency contraception.
 
TRANSCRIPT FOR VIDEO:
 
Bunny 1:
It broke?
 
Bunny 2:
I can't believe it.
 
Bunny 1:
(sighs)
At least there's the morning after pill.
 
Bunny 2:
Yeah, but the way they make you get it is so embarrassing.
 
Bunny 1:
Wait, I thought you didn't need a prescription anymore.
 
Bunny 2:
You don't.  But you still have to go to the pharmacist, show your ID, and if you're lucky, escape without the Stares of Shame.
 
Bunny 1:
Yikes.  Why can't you buy it like a condom?
 
Bunny 2:
Excellent question. Scientists say there are no medical grounds for limiting access to emergency contraception. But instead of putting our health first, the Food and Drug Administration overruled their own scientists and bowed to political pressure.
 
[A beat.]
 
Bunny 1:
Whoa.
 
SMASH CUT TO TEXT:
 
BUNNIES ARE RIGHT.
 
[Music/TEXT]
 
On March 23, 2009, the Center won a major victory when a judge ordered the FDA to reconsider making emergency contraception available over-the-counter to women of all ages.
 
A year later, the FDA still isn't moving forward.
 
…Even though there is no scientific basis to continue restrictions on emergency contraception.
 
 
[Call to Action]
 
It’s time to act.
 
Tell the FDA to respect the scientific evidence and move quickly to end restrictions on emergency contraception.
 
Go to www.reproductiverights.org/FDA to speak out.
 
Please pass along this video and keep up the pressure on the FDA.