Few parents are comfortable with the thought of young teenagers using emergency contraception. That shouldn’t make us insensitive to the fact that girls this age might need to. Because the drug blocks fertilization best if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, it is counterproductive to require the user to delay taking it in order to see a doctor first.
Under the administration’s proposal, even a 15-year-old could be hindered by the need to show a valid ID, which is not routinely issued to people that age.
The administration is also appealing a court’s ruling against the original age-17 restriction, which was set to take effect this month. It has argued that U.S. District Judge Edward Korman should have sent the issue back to the FDA for further review, rather than striking down the age limit. As Korman has pointed out, however, the legal fight to make emergency contraception available to all over the counter has been going on for more than 12 years. The court was right to side with science, leaving parents to establish their own moral guidelines. The administration should obey his ruling and remove the age limit without delay.