Friday, April 24, 2009

FDA Upholds Improved EC Policy

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that emergency contraception (EC) should be available over the counter – that is, without a doctor’s prescription – to 17-year-olds. The statement, which upheld federal judge Edward Korman’s similar decision, eases age restrictions that had outlawed over-the-counter EC access for those 18 and younger.

The FDA’s ruling is a step in the right direction – a symbol of science over petty political pandering. The FDA’s role is to determine the safety of products on the market, and this decision does just that. Even putting aside the fundamental importance of allowing young people access to the reproductive care and options they need, there is clear consensus in the medical community that EC is safe for use by minors. The unjustified restrictions placed on EC were political interference, pure and simple. This ruling is indicative of the Obama administration’s favorable attitude towards science and medicine, an attitude which comes not a moment too soon – after eight years of the Bush administration’s politically fueled “war on science,” it’s high time to give medical and scientific progress the emphasis it deserves.

In his March 23 conclusion, Judge Korman questioned the logic of government-imposed age restrictions on the distribution of EC. Taking the broad safety and value of the medication into account, abolition of these age restrictions is the obvious next move – yet this most recent ruling is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction.

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