The Obama administration will comply with a court order to allow over-the-counter emergency contraceptive sales to women and girls of all ages, according to documents filed late Monday.
While the Department of Justice initially appealed this policy, it has now asked a judge with the Eastern District Court of New York to withdraw that challenge, provided he approves the federal government's plan for compliance.
The reversal means that emergency contraceptives, a heated policy area that has vexed two presidential administrations, will soon be available to young women off of the pharmacy shelf, sold in the same way as Tylenol and toothpaste.
“We are pleased that women should soon be able to buy Plan B One-Step without the arbitrary restrictions that kept it locked behind the pharmacy counter when they needed it most urgently," Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northrup, whose organization brought the case, said.
The Obama administration had previously argued that the judge's order to make emergency contraceptive available over the counter interfered with the Food and Drug Administration's "FDA’s drug approval process," in which "scientific judgments as to whether statutory and regulatory factors are met."
In the two-page letter filed Monday, the federal government announced that it would reverse course.
"The government intends to file with the Circuit Court notice that it is voluntarily withdrawing its appeal in this matter," United State attorney Loretta Lynn wrote in a letter to Judge Edward Korman.
You can read the letter from the Justice Department here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2013/06/letter-to-korman-re-compliance-after-denial-of-stay-rev-final-copy.pdf