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PRESS STATEMENT: Health Care Providers Celebrate Federal Court Ruling on Access to Emergency Contraception



For Immediate Release
March 23,  2009

Washington, DC (3.23.2009) – Today the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), representing more than 11,000 reproductive health care professionals, celebrates the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York’s rejection of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to deny over-the-counter (OTC) access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B to women under the age of 18.  The court ordered the agency to extend OTC access to Plan B to women ages 17 and older within 30 days.  Ruling that the FDA’s decision was based on politics and ideology, rather than science, the judge also ordered FDA to reconsider whether to allow women of all ages access Plan B without a prescription.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of ARHP and a number of other women’s health organizations in 2005.

Dr. Beth Jordan, ARHP’s Medical Director states:

“Today’s ruling is a clear message to the FDA that decisions about medical devices and drugs must be based on science - not ideology.  For the last eight years health care providers and advocates watched as the Bush Administration erected unnecessary barriers to critical reproductive health information and services that provide women a second chance to prevent pregnancy.  This ruling is a major victory for women’s health and gives the FDA a chance to restore its credibility in the public’s eyes.

“As the FDA re-considers whether to allow OTC access for women of all ages, health care providers around the country encourage the agency to make a decision free from political and ideological influence.  Safety and efficacy are the only legitimate criteria the FDA should use in its review process, and Plan B passes that test.  It is safe and easy for reproductive-age women to self-diagnose her own need for Plan B and then to use it – a fact the FDA’s own panel of independent medical experts advised them on prior to the FDA’s politically motivated decision.

“We are hopeful that under new leadership the FDA will honor its evidence-based mission to protect and advance public health.

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The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is the leading source for trusted medical education and information on reproductive and sexual health. ARHP educates health care providers, informs consumers, and helps shape public policy. ARHP is a non-profit membership association composed of highly qualified and committed experts in reproductive health. ARHP members are health professionals in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy and they include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals in reproductive health. To learn more, visit: http://www.arhp.org.