On Wednesday, the FDA announced that Plan B, the morning-after pill, will be available without a prescription to women 17 and older. Plan B is essentially a high dose of birth control pills that both stops ovulation and decreases the chance a fertilized egg will attach to the uterus. When used within 72 hours after unprotected sex, it can lower the risk of pregnancy by almost 90 percent. Its opponents argue that it is simply another form of abortion and that allowing minors access to it endangers their health.
In 2006, the FDA approved the sale of Plan B without a prescription to those 18 or older, but in the intervening years a federal court ordered that Plan B be made available without a prescription for 17-year-olds too, particularly because research going back since 2005 argues that it is safe for them.
Federal judge Edward Korman, who ordered the pill available for 17-year-olds, has also asked the FDA to consider whether it should be available over the counter to women of all ages, chastising the agency for allowing "unusual involvement of the White House in the Plan B decision-making process." Ultimately, he said, "No useful purpose would be served by continuing to deprive 17-year-olds access to Plan B without a prescription." Click here to read more.