Obama Administration Appeals Federal Court Order to Make Emergency Contraception Available to Women of All Ages

Government also requests a stay of Judge Korman’s order pending its appeal to 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. Department of Justice today filed an appeal with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals asking that court to overturn a federal court order directing the FDA to lift longstanding restrictions that impede and delay women of all ages’ access to emergency contraception.

 On April 5, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within 30 days.  The ruling was in response to the Center for Reproductive Rights' renewed lawsuit against the agency to expand over-the counter access to the morning-after pill to women of all ages.

The Obama Administration has also asked Judge Korman to stay his April court order pending the outcome of their appeal. Today’s announcement comes just one day after the Food and Drug Administration approved one brand, Plan B One-Step, to be sold over-the-counter and without a prescription to only women ages 15 and up. 

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights: 

“Women who urgently need emergency contraception have been delayed in getting it or denied access entirely for more than a decade because of the political maneuverings of the last two presidential administrations. 

“The federal court has made clear that these stalling tactics were based purely on politics, not science. 

“We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women's reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.” 

In his 59-page decision, Judge Korman specifically called out the government’s stalling tactics, noting the “FDA has engaged in intolerable delays” amounting to an “administration agency filibuster.” 

The Center filed Tummino v. Hamburg 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.