Justice Department considering whether to appeal ruling on morning-after pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department hasn't yet said whether it will appeal today's ruling by a federal judge, striking down the age restrictions on the over-the-counter purchases of the morning-after pill.

The judge said the restrictions are "arbitrary" and "unreasonable," and that they must end within 30 days. That means consumers of any age could buy the emergency contraception without a prescription. As it stands now, women have to prove they're 17 or older.

The Food and Drug Administration had been preparing to lift all age limits on Plan B One-Step in late 2011 -- but in an unprecedented move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists, citing concern for young girls. President Barack Obama said he supported the decision.

The move shocked women's groups. And in today's ruling, Judge Edward Korman blasted Sebelius for what he called an "obviously political" decision.

One group supporting access to the contraceptive calls today's ruling a "landmark decision" in giving women and girls access to a "safe and effective form of birth control."

But social conservatives are criticizing the ruling. Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council says it "places the health of young girls at risk" -- because it removes the involvement of parents and medical professionals.

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%@AP Links

257-a-14-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"common sense decision"-White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama looks on this issue as a parent of two young girls. (5 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *257 (04/05/13)>> 00:14 "common sense decision"

259-a-07-(Alison Howard, communications director, Concerned Women for America, in AP interview)-"appealed and overturned"-Concerned Women for America spokeswoman Alison Howard says her organization feels the morning after pill is dangerous. (5 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *259 (04/05/13)>> 00:07 "appealed and overturned"

213-a-10-(Dr. Tamika Auguste (tuh-MEE'-kuh uh-GUHS'-tee), representative, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in AP interview)-"you're advocating for"-Washington obstetrician Tamika Auguste of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says removing restrictions on emergency contraception is a good thing. (5 Apr 2013)

<<CUT *213 (04/05/13)>> 00:10 "you're advocating for"

APPHOTO WX105: This undated image made available by Teva Women's Health shows the packaging for their Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) tablet, one of the brands known as the "morning-after pill." In a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration, a federal judge ruled Friday that age restrictions on over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill are "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable" and must end within 30 days. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York means consumers of any age could buy emergency contraception without a prescription — instead of women first having to prove they're 17 or older, as they do today. And it could allow Plan B One-Step to move out from behind pharmacy counters to the store counters. (AP Photo/Teva Women's Health) (13 Feb 2013)

<<APPHOTO WX105 (02/13/13)>>

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