US government files morning-after pill appeal

NEW YORK (AP) – The government has filed a last-second appeal that will delay the sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill to girls of any age without a prescription.
The appeal was filed shortly before a noon Monday deadline.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn last
week refused to delay enforcement of his month-old decision while the
government challenges his ruling, but said it would have until Monday to
appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

Korman said politics is behind efforts by Secretary
of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to block the
unrestricted sale of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill and its
generic competitors.

Justice Department lawyers want the ruling stayed while they appeal.

If the government fails, it would clear the way for
over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill to younger girls. The
FDA announced earlier this month that the contraception could be sold
without a prescription to those 15 and older, a decision Korman said
merely sugarcoated the appeal of his order lifting the age restriction.

Sales had previously been limited to those who were at least 17.

The government warned that “substantial market
confusion” could result if Korman's ruling was enforced while appeals
are pending. The judge dismissed the reasoning as a “silly argument.”

Korman ordered levonorgestrel-based emergency
contraceptives be made available without a prescription,
over-the-counter and without point-of-sale or age restrictions. The
order was supposed to take effect on Friday.

The judge said he ruled against the government
“because the secretary's action was politically motivated,
scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent” and because
there was no basis to deny the request to make the drugs widely

In court papers, attorneys for the Center for
Reproductive Rights have said that every day the ruling is not enforced
is “life-altering” to some women.

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