Local agencies react to morning after pill ruling

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The nation's Health Secretary ruled that teens under 17 years old cannot buy the plan-B morning after pill without a prescription. Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own experts, who were prepared to let the morning after pill be sold on drugstore shelves like condoms. 

Currently only those 17 or older can buy Plan B One-step without a prescription if they show a pharmacist proof of age.

"We are sincerely disappointed that the FDA has once again maintained the agency restriction on emergency contraception, because it is a decision that's not based on medicine," said Kelli Halter with Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, an organization that pushed for the FDA to provide the morning after pill over the counter for women of all ages.

Halter says the decision to keep the age limit at 17 will create a barrier for the reproductive health of teen girls in Greater Cincinnati.

"It would prevent many women and teens from having access to the contraception that they need," Halter said.

With nearly 750,000 15 to 19 year olds becoming pregnant every year, Halter says lifting the age restriction was necessary to prevent unplanned pregnancies among teens.

"If those teens had access to emergency contraception, and once again it is that contraception, it would prevent unintended pregnancies," Halter said.

On the other side Brad Mattes with Life Issues Institute, a pro-life advocacy group says the health secretary made the right decision, and he believes there would have been serious health repercussions if young girls had access to the morning after pill.

"I'm very pleased that this issue has been decided as it is, and the health of these young girls seems to be foremost," Mattes said."Plan B is about two or three times the potency of the birth control pill, the birth control pill has a lot of health concerns associated with it, so it's common sense to understand that there should be legitimate health concerns for these young girls."

Officials with Planned Parenthood say they will continue to push for the age restriction to be lifted for the morning after pill.

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