President Obama publicly supported HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to overrule the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ban the over the counter sale of Plan B contraception to to women of all ages. Currently, Plan B One-Step and the generic brand Next Choice are available behind the counter to women 17 and older — meaning that they do not need a prescription but they have to ask a pharmacist for the drug.
Obama said he did not personally intervene in Sebelius’ decision, but explained that “as the father of two daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over the counter medicine.” Sebelius “could not be confident that a 10-year-old or 11-year-old going to a drug store would be able to, alongside bubble gum or batteriers be able to buy a medication that potentially if not used properly can have an adverse effect,” he said, adding, “I think most parents would probably feel the same way”:
OBAMA: When it comes to 12-year-olds or 13-year-olds, the question is, can we have confidence that they would potentially use Plan B properly and her judgment was that there was not enough evidence that this potentially could be used improperly in a way that had adverse health effects on those young people.
REPORTER: Do you support the decision?
OBAMA: I do.
But “every medical organization with expertise in the area supports the sale of emergency contraception to girls and women of all ages,” noting that women have sexual encounters before the age of 17, and a review of the data showed that “Plan B One-Step is safe and effective” for everyone. In fact, “Teva, the company seeking approval to sell the pill over-the-counter to all women without restrictions, presented data showing it tested the drug in 11-to-16-year-old girls.”
In fact, Obama’s decision to ignore the science on Plan B seems to contradict his own 2009 executive order, in which he pledged that “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health.” At the time, the president explained that the order was necessary “To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions.”