Plan B Contraceptive Litigation

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services in a memorandum blocked a Food and Drug Administration recommendation to make Plan B available without a prescription to women under 17. The executive decision has drawn a response from a group of 15 US Senators who have sent a letter to HHS seeking the specific rationale and data that went into the decision. Now, US District Court for the Eastern District of New York Judge Edward R. Korman, Brooklyn Law School Class of 1966, has invited the Center for Reproductive Rights to file a motion to reopen its case, Tummino v. Hamburg, which accuses the FDA of failing to respond to a 2001 petition to remove age restrictions on Plan B and its generic form. The Center for Reproductive Rights press release states that “The FDA has essentially been holding women’s reproductive health hostage to political calculations.”

The CRR, with the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, brought suit challenging the FDA’s decision to restrict access to emergency contraception. In 2009, Korman issued an Order ruling in favor of the women’s groups and ordered the FDA to act within 30 days to extend over-the-counter access to 17-year-olds. Judge Korman rejected a request to hold the Food and Drug Administration in contempt of court over its policy on the emergency contraceptive Plan B but said he would consider reviewing the government’s refusal to make it easier for girls and women to get the drug. The judge will hear arguments over whether the agency should have allowed the sale of the morning-after pill to girls younger than 17 without a prescription. He also instructed advocacy groups to file the appropriate legal motions, specifically suggested adding Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the lawsuit. For more information, see the Bloomberg article on this story.