The Obama administration announced late Wednesday that it will challenge a decision
by a federal judge to eliminate all age restrictions on over-the-counter sales of morning-after birth control pills -- a continuation of a rare split with women's rights advocates that has created unusual animosity toward a Democratic White House.
The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal of the decision last month by District Judge Edward Korman of New York, and asked that administration policy be allowed to continue until the courts settle the issue.
"Judge Korman's ruling last month was a critical step toward putting women of all ages in control of their destinies." said Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "It is deeply disappointing that the administration has chosen to pursue this appeal, refuting the judgment of the experts at the FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and common sense."
Late in 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked the Food and Drug Administration's effort to approve over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill without age limits. President Obama supported her decision. Last month, Korman overturned the decision, accusing the administration of acting on the basis of politics and not science. Citing scientific data, he ordered that the pill be available to women and girls of all ages.
The DOJ's decision to appeal Wednesday came one day after the FDA approved over-the-counter sale of the pill to females 15 and older. Women's advocates praised that decision.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) called the FDA's decision "a step in the right direction" and vowed to continue "working to ensure that access is based on science, safety, and efficacy."