Federal Judge Denies Government's Request to Delay Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception
Judge Korman denies stay of his April order, gives government until Monday to appeal to 2nd Circuit
05.10.13 - (PRESS RELEASE) Calling the Obama Administration’s appeal of a federal court order to make emergency contraception over-the-counter for all women “frivolous” and “taken for the purpose of delay,” U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman has denied the government’s request to stay his order pending an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today’s ruling is in response to the Obama Administration’s request to stay Judge Korman’s April 5 order for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within 30 days. Under today’s ruling, the government will have until noon Monday, May 13 to file a stay motion with the 2nd Circuit to delay compliance pending their appeal.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“In a country where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended, there a tremendous public interest in expanding access to safe and effective birth control methods, including emergency contraception, to as many women as possible.
“This is exactly why the FDA’s own scientists have been repeatedly recommending that emergency contraception be available to women of all ages without added burdens to overcome and hoops to jump through.
“Judge Korman’s sound ruling simply orders the government to do what the experts at FDA have been trying to do for years: to put politics aside and let science guide us to a policy that makes emergency contraception readily accessible to all women when they need it most urgently.”
Judge Korman publicly rebuked the arguments from attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice at a federal court hearing on Tuesday, likening the age restrictions and I.D. requirements for emergency contraception to voter suppression and citing the disproportionately negative impact of these arbitrary restrictions on young women, poor communities, and women of color.
Last week’s appeal came just a day after the FDA approved one brand, Plan B One-Step, to be sold over-the-counter to women ages 15 and up—but only in stores that have an on-site pharmacy and if the woman can prove her age. Contrary to the government’s assertions, this new marketing scheme does not significantly alleviate the unnecessary restrictions on emergency contraception—which is most effective the when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or failed birth control—that can prevent women from timely access.
The Center reopened Tummino v. Hamburg in February 2012 along with Andrea Costello of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and Kirsten Clanton of Southern Legal Counsel on behalf of grassroots feminist activists with National Women's Liberation and 15-year-old Anaya Kelly. The Center also represents the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and parents who seek over-the-counter access for their daughters in the case.