FDA Lowers Age for Plan B to 15 Without Prescription - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

FDA Lowers Age for Plan B to 15 Without Prescription

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SALISBURY, Md.- A controversial FDA decision puts the morning after pill in the hands of females as young as 15-years-old, without the need for a prescription or parental involvement.

Plan B, as it is formally known, is available behind the counter to those 17 and older. But the FDA has decided the pill should be sold right on store shelves, and is lowering the age limit to buy it down to 15.

Last month, a federal judge ordered the FDA get rid of age restrictions entirely on Plan B within 30 days. The agency said its decision to reduce the age for the pill has nothing to do with that ruling. Soon, all you will need to get the morning after pill is an ID proving you are 15 or older.

The change is eliciting many opinions as to whether or not it is a good idea.

Anissa Villella is a young single mother of a 2-year-old girl. She thinks reducing the age for the morning after pill, without a prescription, makes sense.

"Not all parents sign their kids up to get birth control, and not all kids or teenagers want their parents to know they're having intercourse," Villella said. "So, if they do slip up, it will be a plus for them and their parents."

Others, like Kara Markoya, a teacher at Central Delaware Christian Academy, disagree.

"I think it's awful" she noted. "I think that all humans have the right to live, if they're small or not. I teach little children and they're all special and precious and it's sad that some won't get a chance to live."

According to the FDA, Plan B does not terminate an existing pregnancy. Instead, it works by preventing ovulation or fertilization, if taken within three days of having unprotected sex.

"Fifteen-year-old's shouldn't be having sex anyways, so it's probably a bad idea," remarked Amanda Knock of Salisbury.

"With girls becoming younger and younger, having sex earlier and earlier, it would be a great idea," countered Charlie Seabright.

Some in the medical community say allowing girls as young as 15 to buy the pill comes with pros and cons.

"It certainly has the potential to avoid a number of unwanted pregnancies," explained Melissa Beatty Johnson, COO of Milford Street and Riverside pharmacies. "But it doesn't address the risk of STD's, and it doesn't address the issue that young women need to be talking with parents and at least with medical professionals about contraception and keeping themselves safe when they're sexually active."

The new requirements should take effect in a few months. 

The ruling applies only to Plan B and not other forms of emergency contraception. Other brands will still be kept behind the counter and require a prescription for anyone under 17.

Back in 2011, the FDA tried to get rid of any kind of age requirement for Plan B. The agency was overruled, however, for the first time in history by the Health and Human Services Secretary. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said more work needed to be done studying whether the pill is safe for all ages.

According to Melissa Beatty Johnson, there are risks with Plan B.

"While the product will come with warnings, as a non-prescription item, you can go into a pharmacy and purchase it as needed," she noted. "That does raise the potential that it will be used too often or inappropriately. It is intended as an emergency contraceptive, not as a regular form of birth control. So, it really can be hard on the system."

Last month's ruling by a federal judge was that there be no age requirement for the Plan B pill. This would take effect May 5, and no action has yet been taken, which has the potential to impact Tuesday's FDA decision.

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