Last week, the Obama administration blocked a single-pill version of the emergency contraception Plan B from being sold over the counter, despite the FDA giving it a green light. Some have argued that it was a good call, that parents should have more control. But there's also a contingent who thought the administration's "common sense" reasoning sounded like a more polite version of "just because." One former FDA official claimed President Obama broke a promise to keep science and politics separate.
Now some Senate Democrats are getting into the fight, and demanding their own explanation:
Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and a dozen other Senate Democrats are asking the Obama administration to produce scientific justification for its decision last week to block girls 16 and younger from buying the emergency contraceptive Plan B over the counter.
The letter, signed by Democratic Senators including John Kerry, Al Franken and Barbara Boxer, makes clear that not only are they questioning the decision on scientific grounds, but they're also advocating for its availability:
Nearly half of all pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unintended. Keeping Plan B behind the counter makes it harder for all women to obtain a safe and effective product they may need to prevent an unintended pregnancy.We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.
Yesterday, a federal judge in Brooklyn with a history of rulings on Plan B said he would consider reviewing the administration's overrule. The political damage may already have been done. Amanda Marcotte argues today that the Obama administration has made a gross error:
The administration's political calculation here is understandable. I've definitely seen in the past week how the very idea of teenage girls being sexual is still treated as an affront to Daddy's authority, and it causes many people to become so angry and upset that basic reason and evidence cannot penetrate their brain....It's like shooting oil balls at a tub of water...Those folks are loud and numerous, and they vote, too. Even though most are Republicans, many are Democrats and independents, and the administration is aware of that. But do they outnumber young women who supported Obama vociferously in 2008, and do not appreciate being told that we're too stupid to handle a medication that is the standard-bearer for an idiot-proof drug?