In a rare public split among federal health officials, the Health and Human Services Department overruled a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to make the drug available to anyone of any age without a restriction.
In a statement, FDA Administrator Margaret A. Hamburg said she had decided the medication could be used safely by girls and women of all ages. But she added that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had rejected the move.
“I agree ... there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” Hamburg said.
“However, this morning I received a memorandum from the Secretary of Health and Human Services invoking her authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to execute its provisions and stating that she does not agree with the Agency’s decision to allow the marketing of Plan B One-Step nonprescription for all females of child-bearing potential,” she said.
Had Kathleen Sebelius not made the unprecedented move of overturning the FDA's decision, Plan B would soon be available in the same way as aspirin, preventing Lord knows how many unwanted pregnancies and allowing young women more freedom to make their own family planning choices.
This decision has a significant impact on our lives. It's a perfect example of everything conservatives could rightly rail against. This is some bureaucrat wielding the power of government to enforce her personal opinions (Sebelius is Catholic). This is a perfect example of big government nosing its way into our lives and personal decisions. This is over-regulation at its worst, forcing the market's hand because of airy fairy feelings and fear of special interest groups.
Of course, we won't hear anything from them, neither condemnation for the things they claim to believe in nor praise for things they actually believe in. But this isn't really about them, is it? This is about the Obama Administration stopping a major, necessary policy change by the FDA that would grant young women a tremendous degree of reproductive freedom. It would have changed millions of lives for the better, but oh well, what's more important: changing millions of lives for the better or giving parish priests one less reason to bash Democrats in Mass?
Kevin Drum articulates my sentiment pretty well:
This is the first time an HHS secretary has ever overruled the FDA, and it's a blow to those of us who believe that Democratic administrations are more willing to be guided by scientific evidence than Republican ones.