By Kathleen Hennessey
11:04 PM EDT, May 2, 2013
MEXICO CITY -- President Obama says he’s “very comfortable” with a Food and Drug Administration ruling that maintains age restrictions on females who can buy the so-called morning after pill without a prescription.
The rule announced this week prohibits girls younger than 15 from buying the drug, known as Plan B, over the counter. The decision was made by the FDA and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Obama said, pushing back against women's groups that have suggested the White House has interjected its political concern about a touchy subject into the rule process.
Sebelius is comfortable with the ruling and so is he, Obama said Thursday at a news conference in Mexico City, where he is meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
This is the Obama administration’s second attempt to come up with new regulations for the sale of emergency contraception. Last year, the FDA chose 17 as the minimum age for over-the-counter sales.
But a federal judge ruled against such restrictions and ordered all levonorgestrel-based emergency birth control drugs be made available to all consumers over the counter. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York called the age restriction "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that is seeking to overturn the judge’s order. Obama suggested the court fight might result in further changes.
“My suspicion is, is that the FDA may now be called upon to make further decisions about whether there's sufficient scientific evidence for girls younger than 15,” Obama said. “That's the FDA's decision to make. That's Secretary Sebelius's decision to review.”
Obama endorsed the 17-year-old age restriction last year, saying, “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.”
He said Thursday he believes the new rule was based in science. “But I'm very comfortable with the decision they've made right now based on solid scientific evidence for girls 15 and older,” he said.
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