Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided that Plan B, more widely known as the morning-after pill, will not be available for over-the-counter use, and the move has sparked considerable controversy.
The contraceptive pill will still be available to women over 17, as long as they have some form of identification on their person. The White House overruled the FDA’s decision, deciding that younger girls should be protected from the implications of putting Plan B in the aisles of pharmacies nationwide, however.
"Secretary Sebelius took this action after careful review," Obama spokesman Nick Papas said. "As the secretary has stated, Plan B will remain available to all women who need it, and the president supports the secretary's decision," according to AP.
Sebelius also explained the reasoning behind the choice, which she apparently made of her own accord.
“It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age," she said, referring to the 11-year-olds who would be affected by the law.
Because this is the first time the HHS has publicly overruled an FDA conclusion, proponents of contraception immediately spoke out against it.
“I had come to believe that the FDA would be allowed to make decisions based on science and the public's health," said Susan Wood, the FDA’s previous leader. "Sadly, once again, FDA has been overruled and not allowed to do its job."
There have already been grumblings of dissent by the President’s Democratic base, many of whom also disapproved of the recent decision.
Supporting the move is a variety of conservative voices, including Teresa Tomeo, a syndicated Catholic talk show host and bestselling author.
Tomeo strongly endorsed the decision by Sebelius, acknowledging the effect the availability Plan B could have had on younger girls.
Still, Tomeo feels Sebelius and the HHS have not gone far enough. She thinks the drug should be outlawed, period.
Plan B “just makes it easier for girls to get the idea that sex outside of marriage is fine,” Tomeo told The Christian Post. “(Sex) is supposed to be between a husband and wife.”
In addition, the author feels the media is - at least partially - to blame for the destructive ways young women are influenced today.
While plenty of studies are published stating that Plan B is safe, there are many others that point to excessive bleeding and other medical problems with the drug. This information continues to go unpublicized, although there is a responsibility to find it, Tomeo said.
The former news anchor knows firsthand the potential media effects on young girls.
As a child, Tomeo had an eating disorder because she “wanted to look like the TV stars in the 1970s.”
To prevent young girls from suffering a similar fate, she publicly disavows ideas like Plan B that would send the “wrong message” about intercourse.
“(Plan B) sends the message that sex is not something sacred,” says Tomeo.
Using the morning-after pill within 72 hours of the unprotected relations has up to an 89 percent chance of preventing pregnancy. In addition, it may prevent already fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterine wall.