Obama Admin overrules FDA approval of over-the-counter birth control; pro-choice women feel “betrayed”

A great many pro-choice women consider this latest Obama move a “betrayal” (see below).

From a NARAL New York press release (my emphasis throughout):

Today the FDA announced the Secretary of Health and Human Services – for the first time ever – has invoked her authority to overrule the agency’s decision to approve the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B One-Step for full over-the-counter sale, which would have removed what was widely recognized to be a politically motivated age restriction on its access. This is the first time in history the Health Secretary has ever used this power to overrule an FDA decision. Had the FDA decision gone into effect, women of all ages would have been able to purchase this back-up birth control method without a prescription and without delays at the pharmacy counter.

“This is a deeply disappointing betrayal from an Administration that had pledged to promote the health and well-being of women and families and be guided by science and medicine,” said Andrea Miller, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

Scott Lemieux at Prospect.org:

[I]n a decision that RH Reality Check’s Jodi Jacobson calls “astounding,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has overruled her own medical experts and denied American women over-the-counter access to Plan B. This action is, quite simply, a disgrace. It’s awful on the merits, and politically involves attacking a core constituency of the Democratic Party for no obvious benefit. Overriding professional FDA scientists in order to advance an agenda hostile to reproductive freedom and the equality of women is not what most Democrats believed they were voting for.

Lemieux adds:

And let’s not forget that the cossacks work for the czar; the responsibility for this decision rests with President Obama.

I’d dispute the “no obvious benefit” part. There’s quite a lot of speculation that he’s sucking up to Catholic bishops.

This isn’t over. Many more moves like this and the Republicans can run Krusty the Clown and expect to win.

Update: An emailer pointed this out, Obama in 2009:

Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.

I’m speechless.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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