What happened: Based on the best available science, in 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner approved removing the age limit on the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B. However, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled the FDA Commissioner, citing the need for an age restriction of 17 years old to prevent younger people (girls aged 10 or 11) from getting access to this medication.
Why it matters: By overruling a science-based decision on an emergency contraceptive, the Obama administration placed political considerations above science. Decisions on whether the FDA approves, bans, or restricts medications is required by law to be based on the best available science, and the scientific evidence is clear that Plan B is safe and effective for girls aged 10 or 11 as well as other age groups. By restricting access to these medications, the Obama administration prevented younger women, girls, and other people who can get pregnant from obtaining the medication they need to safeguard their health, safety, and bodily autonomy.
Learn more about how the Obama administration sidelined the FDA’s science-based recommendations for Plan B, including a blog post on the timeline of events and an in-depth look at the issue in Box 2 (pages 23-24) of our report “Preserving Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking.”