- Category: Press
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Plaintiffs’ Counsel and Plaintiffs Available for Interviews May 7, 2013
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman will hear arguments today on the government's motion to stay his April 5, 2013, Order requiring that emergency contraception be made available without age and point-of-sale restrictions.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) represents the plaintiffs, grassroots feminists activists with National Women’s Liberation (NWL) and 15-year-old Anaya Kelly in Tummino v. Hamburg. The lawsuit was filed along with the Center for Reproductive Rights against the Food and Drug Administration and Health and Human Services.
On April 5, the Court ruled in the plaintiffs' favor that there was no scientific basis for the Obama administration to continue to restrict access to emergency contraception. Judge Korman ordered that it be made available to women and girls "without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within thirty days." The Court found that the FDA had improperly restricted this safe and effective contraceptive after "political interference" from the White House, and had done so against the medical and scientific evidence recommending the drug be made readily available.
Instead of complying with the Court's Order, the government announced last Tuesday that it would force all women and girls to present government-issued ID to store clerks in order to obtain emergency contraceptives, and that it would continue to deprive over-the-counter access to young teenagers. The next day, Wednesday, the government announced it was appealing the decision and that it was seeking a stay of the order pending appeal.
"The Obama administration has chosen to block Judge Korman's order in this case, showing its disregard for the rights of women," stated Andrea Costello, Senior Staff Attorney at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and counsel for the plaintiffs in the litigation. "For 12 years the female population of the United States has been improperly denied access to this contraceptive for political purposes. Millions of women have been subject to the risk of unintended or unwanted pregnancy that could have been safely avoided and every day that this political interference continues, more lives are affected."
"The Obama administration has decided to intervene in and obstruct women's decisions about whether to become pregnant," stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF. "This conduct — acting against science, medicine, law and regulatory procedure — is another outrageous example of the administration's effort to curry favor with the right wing at the expense of women's basic rights. In April 2011, President Obama sacrificed women's reproductive rights, telling House Speaker John Boehner 'I will give you D.C. abortion' as a trade in budget negotiations. President Obama just told an audience of reproductive rights advocates, 'When it comes to a woman's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you.' The administration plainly does not practice what it preaches."
The plaintiffs speak out
Lead plaintiff, Annie Tummino:
"In his April 5th decision, Judge Korman agreed with NWL's position that the FDA's age restrictions on the Morning After Pill were always about restricting the access of all women and girls, not just the youngest. Age has been used as a smokescreen in this battle. The FDA has not only decided that those under fifteen will continue to face big obstacles to getting this safe and effective form of birth control. They have also decided that all women must show ID and prove their age before getting the Morning After Pill."
Plaintiff and NWL-New York chapter organizer Jenny Brown:
"This is still the only drug in the United States where the FDA requires the purchaser to prove their age. This battle is over much more than age; it's about restricting access to birth control for all females. Why is the U.S. government fighting a pitched battle to block everyone's access to birth control?"
Plaintiff and NWL-Gainesville (Fla.) chapter organizer Stephanie Seguin:
"Any age restriction is unacceptable. The FDA's decision to age restrict the Morning After Pill is not supported by its own scientists and continues to place a heavy burden on the youngest females, who already face an uphill battle in obtaining birth control of any kind. NWL believes that any female old enough to get pregnant is old enough to decide that she doesn't want to be pregnant."
Amber Kelly, mother of 15-year-old Plaintiff Anaya Kelly, Gainesville, FL:
"I am proud of my daughter for standing up for the rights of girls everywhere to have control over their bodies and reproductive lives. Women and girls should have access to emergency contraception no matter their relationship with their parents or medical provider. Of course, I hope that my daughter would come to me if she decided to become sexually active or if she was sexually active and the condom broke, but this is not possible for all young women. I am thankful that my daughter is conscious of this and is a part of making birth control available to all young women and girls."
Plaintiff and NWL-New York chapter organizer Erin Mahoney:
"The Morning After Pill is already available without a prescription in at least 63 other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Ghana. Due to the Obama administration's blockade of a federal Court Order, women in the United States continue to have less rights than those around the world."
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For more information go to: www.WomensLiberation.org