Political "Science:" The Ongoing Battle Over Emergency Contraception
This article is published as part of our 2012 Back Up Your Birth Control series.
The influence of politics on science and women’s health was once again on full display late last year. In December 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius blocked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of Plan B One-Step’s over-the-counter (OTC) status. It would have been the first time emergency contraception (EC) would be available without a prescription for women of all ages. Instead, it was the first time a HHS secretary overrode the FDA’s decision to approve a medication.
While Secretary Sebelius’ decision to intervene and block Plan B One-Step’s OTC status was shocking on several fronts—given the mounds of scientific evidence proving EC as safe and effective for adolescents and this Administration’s pledge to scientific integrity—those of us at the Center for Reproductive Rights saw it as “déjà vu all over again.”
We’ve been battling the FDA’s politicization of EC for over a decade—trying to hold the FDA accountable in federal court for treating EC differently than any other medication.