Brooklyn (CNA/EWTN News) — A federal judge’s order to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription to people of any age has drawn sharp criticism and concern from public figures throughout the country.
“This is just a recipe for disaster,” Dennis Poust, communications director for the New York Catholic Conference, told CNA April 5.
In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a federal judge in Brooklyn, Edward Korman, ordered the FDA to make the morning-after pill available without a prescription to people of any age.
Spokesperson for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro Life Activities, Deirdre McQuade, said the ruling makes young girls more vulnerable to sexual predators as well as harmful side effects of the drug.
“The court’s action undermines parents’ ability to protect their daughters from such exploitation and from the adverse effects of the drug itself,” she said in an April 5 statement.
“Many studies have shown that wider access to ’emergency contraception’ among young people does not reduce pregnancy or abortion rates, but can contribute to higher rates of sexually transmitted disease,” she said. “No public health consideration justifies the unregulated distribution of such drugs to children. This ruling should be appealed and overturned.”
In Dec. 2011, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to make the drug available over the counter and with no age limits citing “significant cognitive and behavioral differences” between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age.
President Barack Obama voiced support for Sebelius’ “common sense” decision saying that most other parents “would probably feel the same way.”
According to the judge’s comments, Sebelius’ original decision to block access to the drug for children under 16 was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
His ruling will allow people of any age to purchase the “emergency contraceptive,”which is a high dose of the synthetic progesterone hormone called levonorgestrel, without a prescription.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life called the judge’s decision an opportunity for “big abortion industry to gamble with young girls’ health.”
“Equally troubling, this allows young girls pressured into sex or even abused by adults to be manipulated into taking pills that cover up what is a criminal act,” she said in a statement.
President of Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, called Judge Korman’s ruling “reckless” and said that it “denies girls the protection that comes along with the involvement of parents and doctors.”
Many opponents have raised the question of what this ruling will do to girls who could use the drug as a birth control routine instead of getting a prescription for the pill.
“I think we may see overuse to the point that a young girl may seriously have her health compromised as a result or even, God forbid, die because of misuse of these drugs,” Poust said.
Anna Higgins, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Center, said this ruling presents a “real danger” for the drug to be forced on young women and girls without their consent.
“The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today’s ruling removes these commonsense protections,” she said in a statement.