FDA lowers age restriction on morning after pill to include 17 year olds

Published: Apr. 23, 2009 at 2:35 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2009 at 2:20 PM EDT
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By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - 17 year olds will soon be able to buy the controversial morning after pill. The Food and Drug Administration agreed to lower the age limit Wednesday to comply with a federal judge's order.

The morning after pill or Plan B is an over-the-counter drug. No prescription is needed but proof of age is required and a payment of anywhere between $35 and $60.

While supporters applaud the FDA, opponents say it will only lead to more unprotected sex.

Brittany Johnson is two months shy of her 17th birthday. At that age, she can't buy cigarettes or alcohol. But she would be able to purchase the morning after pill without a prescription.

"Personally I don't need it. Some girls I guess if they're having irresponsible sex I guess, but I still don't think it's a good idea even if because if you play you pay," said Brittany Johnson.

The FDA expanded the age limit for Plan B to include 17 year olds after a federal judge ruled the decision to only allow women 18 and older to buy the emergency contraceptive was driven by politics and not science.

"It's another option and 17 to 18 year olds is not that much of an age difference," said Richmond resident Tonia Burrell.

While supporters say Plan B will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, opponents call it another form of abortion.

"Plan B or emergency contraception is just a higher dose of the hormones found in daily birth control pills so it's like two or three pills at the same time and is not an abortion pill. It does not affect a pregnancy if a woman is already pregnant," said Courtney Jones with Planned Parenthood.

"The fact that they're pumping their bodies full of hormones that we don't really know what they're going to do is just ridiculous and I don't think it would lessen pregnancies at all," said Lori Sturtevant with the group The Richmond Coalition For Life.

No word on when this will go into effect because while the FDA approved the age change, the manufacturer must still make the official request. Meantime, the FDA has been ordered by the same judge to re-evaluate lifting all age restrictions.

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