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Medical Groups Denounce Administration’s Appeal of Emergency Contraception Ruling

Decision defies strong scientific evidence supporting over-the-counter access to emergency contraception without age restriction

May 2, 2013

Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) oppose the U.S. Department of Justice’s May 1 decision to appeal a recent U.S. District Court ruling requiring that emergency contraception products be made available over-the-counter without age restriction. The medical organizations stand behind their support of the Court’s ruling, citing strong scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of emergency contraception for all women of reproductive age.

"The Justice Department’s decision defies the medical community’s consensus opinion that emergency contraception is completely safe and effective for young women of any reproductive age," said AAP President Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP. "Nearly 80% of pregnancies in adolescents are unintended, and if the Administration’s appeal is successful, not all adolescents will be able to easily access a product that can prevent unintended pregnancies and protect their health."

"There is no scientific justification for a continued age restriction on emergency contraception. The Administration’s decision puts the health of adolescent girls at risk and is inconsistent with what we know about the safety and benefits of emergency contraception," said SAHM President Debra Katzman, MD, FSAHM. "Emergency contraception is a safe, effective back-up birth control method for teens and women of all ages to prevent unintended pregnancy."

"Yesterday’s disappointing decision by the Department of Justice fails to advance the ability of young women to safely and responsibly control and protect their reproductive health," said James T. Breeden, MD, president of The College. "The College will continue to push for removing the unnecessary age restriction for over-the-counter access to emergency contraception."

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plan B for availability on store shelves without a prescription to adolescent girls ages 15 and older. Although AAP, ACOG and SAHM welcome this action as a step forward to improve the accessibility of emergency contraception, the groups reaffirm their collective support for providing emergency contraception over-the-counter without any age restriction. The groups have significant concerns about the new policy and note that 15-year-old adolescents often lack the identification necessary to prove date of birth.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. (www.aap.org)

About the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. (www.acog.org)

About the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

Founded in 1968, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine is a multidisciplinary organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents through advocacy, clinical care, health promotion, health service delivery, professional development and research.