SOUTHFIELD (WWJ/AP) – The morning-after pill will now be available to girls as young as 15, and it’ll be placed on store shelves instead of behind the pharmacy counter. But do these new regulations conflict with Michigan law?
It used to be that girls had to prove they were 17 before receiving the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception without a prescription. Tuesday’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration lowers the age limit and will allow the pill to sit on drugstore shelves next to spermicide or other women’s health products and condoms — but anyone who wants to buy it must prove their age at the cash register.
According to WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton, all of this could conflict with Michigan law.
“The Food and Drug Administration believes that lowering the age from 17 to 15 to obtain the morning-after pill will prevent more unwanted pregnancies and placing those pills next to spermicide and condoms instead of keeping them behind the counter will encourage their use, and they may be right,” Langton said.
“However, anyone in Michigan who has sex under the age of 16 is committing a felony, which is punishable by up to 15-years in prison. And believe me, prosecutors do charge underage kids with what was commonly known as statutory rape. I guess the practicality outweighed what the law says. We’ll wait and see what happens,” he continued.
The FDA said the Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code that prompts the cashier to verify a customer’s age. Anyone who can’t provide such proof as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport wouldn’t be allowed to complete the purchase.
Half the nation’s pregnancies every year are unintended, and doctors’ groups say more access to morning-after pills could cut those numbers. The pills contain higher doses of regular contraceptives, and if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.
The FDA had been poised to lift all age limits and let Plan B sell over-the-counter in late 2011, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an unprecedented move, overruled her own scientists. Sebelius said some girls as young as 11 are physically capable of bearing children, but shouldn’t be able to buy the pregnancy-preventing pill on their own.
President Barack Obama supported Sebelius’ move and a spokesman said earlier this month that the president’s position hadn’t changed.
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