(CNN) — A federal judge in Brooklyn has ordered the FDA to make the morning-after birth control pill available over the counter to people of any age without a prescription, overturning a decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require a prescription for girls under 17 years old.
The FDA said it couldn’t comment because it is an ongoing legal mater.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter without a prescription in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Opponents of prescription requirements say prescriptions can delay access to the drug.
Emergency contraceptives prevent a pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus. They are intended for use within 72 hours after sex but are most effective if taken within 24 hours.
Many developed countries require a prescription for oral contraceptives, including Canada and most of Europe, but many other countries sell the pill without a prescription even formally or informally.