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Morning-After Pills Available To Purchase OTC

Update Date: Jun 07, 2013 09:49 AM EDT

The subject of Plan B, which is a form of an emergency contraceptive pill, is in the middle of a battle between the Obama administration and the courts of New York. In mid-May, U.S District Court Judge Edward Korman from the Eastern District of New York ruled that Plan B must be made available without a prescription and without an age limit while the federal government appealed the measure to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He first passed the measure on April 5 ruling that all morning after pills should be available without restrictions. Today, in a three-paragraph order, the federal court of appeals ruled that even though the government's appeal is still pending, some of the medications mentioned in the order must be available.

According to the new order, a three-judge panel ruled that the "two-pill variants" of the morning-after pill, such as Next Choice and other levonorgestral pills, could be sold over the counter. The availability of the one-pill versions of this contraceptive will still be delayed until the government appeal is considered. The order did not specify why the Plan-B One-Step contraceptive was delayed whereas the two-pill drugs were not.

"Today's decision from the 2nd Circuit marks an historic day for women's health," commented the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup reported by NPR. "Finally, after more than a decade of politically motivated delays, women will no longer have to endure intrusive, onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions to get emergency contraception."

The morning-after pill is effective when girls and women take it within 72 hours post sexual intercourse. The effectiveness rate is up to 89 percent and it can prevent unwanted births that could be due to rape, condom failure or forgetting to use contraceptives. The pill is not effective for women who are already pregnant because it works by preventing fertilization or ovulation.

The federal government has two weeks to make a move. They can appeal the 2nd Circuit's ruling to the full appeals court or to the Supreme Court. 

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