I’m both astounded and outraged that Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, overruled the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to allow over-the-counter access for emergency contraception pills.
Emergency contraception pills offer women a “second chance” when no contraceptive has been used: they can be taken up to five days afterward and help prevent pregnancy (they do not cause an abortion).
They are currently available without prescription to women (and men) who are 17 and older, but younger teens must first obtain a prescription. Because the pills are more effective the sooner they are taken, the placement of the pills behind the pharmacy counter and the prescription requirements for younger teens create undue obstacles to their effective use.
The FDA’s careful and scientific review of the data found that emergency contraceptive pills are safe for over-the-counter use by all ages. Sebelius’ action clearly places politics before science in setting health care policies, despite the Obama administration’s pledge to support evidence-based decision making.
What other health options will women be denied simply because those in charge ignore the science about safety and effectiveness while caving in to a political agenda?
We should all be advocating that access to health care is based on evidence of safety and effectiveness, not politics.