Concerns over FDA approval of morning-after pill for girls

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- New government rules would make the morning after pill easier for teenage girls to get without a doctor or parents knowing.

The FDA says Plan B emergency contraception should be made available to anyone 15 and older and that it should be on store shelves instead of locked up behind pharmacy counters. This all stems from a legal battle that has been going on for years. The judge in the case has actually ruled that because research has found Plan B is safe and effective, it should be made readily available for woman of all ages. So this new FDA ruling is unpopular with people on all sides of the issue.

Matt Hartwig with Red Cross Pharmacies says as a father of two girls, he has his own concerns about the FDA's new rules.

"Obviously we could have a long discussion about whether I think this is good for my girls or not good for my girls," he said.

But as a business owner, he has different concerns.

First of all, how is he supposed to tell if someone is 15? Many young people don't have state ID. Also, he disagrees with the requirement having the product out on the shelves.

He wants to keep Plan B behind the counter because of theft concerns. He also has concerns about women using it all the time as their primary birth control.

"From a woman's health care perspective, I am concerned that is a potential for people to hurt themselves with it," said Hartwig.

Peter Brownlie with Planned Parenthood disagrees with that, saying studies show young people use emergency contraception responsibly. He says Planned Parenthood is opposed to any restrictions on Plan B. He says ideally, parents will talk to their kids about birth control and safe sex, but young people will also need access to emergency contraception.

"Emergency contraception is a simple safe medication someone can use to not be pregnant when they don't want to," he said, "the fact is there is far more potential harm for a 14, 15, 16 year old getting pregnant than from using emergency contraception."

Brownlie and Hartwig both agree the new FDA rules put pharmacies in a bad position of trying to figure out who should or shouldn't be buying Plan B.

"What age is that appropriate? That's a decision for families and someone other than a pharmacist I think," said Hartwig.

Brownlie says it will be interesting to see what the judge in this case has to say about the FDA's new ruling. The judge has said in the past that there's no reason to place any age restrictions on Plan B, and even though the FDA might consider this a compromise, the judge may not see it that way.

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