The US Department of Justice appealed a federal judge’s ruling ordering regulators to provide emergency contraception to women and girls of all ages.
Wednesday’s appeal came just one day after the Food and Drug Administration allowed a manufacturer to make the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill available to those age 15 and older without a prescription.
The FDA says that decision is not related to the pending court case over emergency contraception.
Until now, emergency contraception has been available by prescription only to those under 17, and was for sale behind pharmacy counters alone.
US District Court Judge Edward Korman ruled in April that a 2011 decision by the chief of US Health and Human Services to require teens under 17 to obtain a prescription was “politically motivated” and “scientifically unjustified”.
He set a 30-day deadline to make emergency contraception available to women and girls of all ages.
In the latest court filing, the federal government asked Korman to temporarily stay his court order pending the appeal to prevent the FDA from being forced to immediately comply with his ruling.
“This court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review any aspect” of manufacturer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s supplemental new drug application, US attorneys said in a court filing.
After the appeal, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed suit against the FDA, said it was “deeply disappointed” with the delay sought by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Women who urgently need emergency contraception have been delayed in getting it or denied access entirely for more than a decade because of the political maneuverings of the last two presidential administrations,” said Nancy Northup, the center’s president and CEO.
“We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.”