Et Tu, Sebelius? HHS Secretary Blocks Over-the-Counter Plan B

Today, as expected, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg approved a pharmaceutical application to make emergency contraception Plan B available over the counter without an age restriction. Then, flabbergasting reproductive-health advocates, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled that decision, ruling to keep Plan B “behind-the-counter.”

Plan B’s status has been the subject of fierce debate inside and outside the walls of HHS for nigh on a decade. But that debate seemed to be finally over. Countless doctors, scientists and health professionals have confirmed that Plan B does not pose a health risk. Multiple studies have shown that girls are capable of understanding the package label and using the product safely. In 2009 a federal judge even ordered the FDA to reconsider the age restrictions on the drug, calling it “political and ideological,” not scientific.

Kathleen Sebelius has been a friend to women’s health in the past. In August, she announced that birth control constituted preventive care under the Affordable Care Act, thereby requiring insurance plans to cover it at no cost to women. Why the turnabout? Possibly she’s tired of the relentless pressure she faces every day from religious groups and their friends in Congress. Possibly she’s tired of being called “a threat to the health and well-being of our country,” a thug, a Soviet tyrant, a late-term abortion lover, criminally obstructive, gruesomely anti-Catholic and a liar.

Regardless, in the interest of science, reason and sanity, she should have stepped up–or rather stepped out of the way of the FDA finally doing the right thing on EC.

Secretary Sebelius, we thought better of you. This was the most unkindest cut of all.

Take action to help reverse this decision—click here to tell President Obama not to let science and medical standards be trumped by politics.

Photo from Flickr user US Mission Geneva under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. I’m really disappointed. As a Kansas resident, I have always respected Sebelius. And now she goes and does something like this…

  2. Megan Evans says:

    This is outrageous! I started a petition on this at to get the advocacy wheel cracking!

  3. After the jackass-ery of Janet Woodcock, I was hopeful but not surprised. It will always be about the politics before the well being of women, especially those not old enough to vote yet.

    I hope this issue does not go quietly into the dark, and that women and men everywhere continue to fight for control of our bodies!

  4. I gotta say, I’m not dismayed about this. Getting something over the counter as opposed to procuring it from a sympathetic, qualified health care facility like PP seems dangerous – I can imagine a frightened, panicked young woman (a girl, really) not following directions and maybe taking many instead of one, for example…

    • There’s only one in the box. That’s why it’s call “One Step.” I took one myself a few months ago. It’s $50 for that one pill, so if a girl even -can- overdose on them, she’d better be loaded.

  5. I thought Obama’s defense of this decision equally ludicrous — Sebelius is concerned that 10 year old girls will go into the drugstore and be able to buy, along with batteries and bubble gum, a medication that, if used incorrectly, could potentially cause them harm?

    Are we now going to enact legislation that prevents 10 year old girls from buying Tylenol? It states right on the package that if you taking more than 8 in 24 hours can result in damage to your liver — which is far more serious than the worst possible side effect of taking Plan B.

  6. Hard facts:
    In 2010, 50.8% of the U.S. population was female.
    As of January 12, 2011, thirty-five women have served or are serving as the governor of a U.S. state (including one from the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). Currently, six women are serving as governors of U.S. states.
    Six of the 50 U.S. governors are female, which is a mere 12%. Consider the history:
    Men and Women in the 112th Congress: In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women (17.35%). In the Senate, there are 17 women (17%) and 83 men.

    I was for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential election, because she was clearly the most experienced and best qualified Democratic candidate. Even so, she was not nominated by the Democrats as their candidate in the election. It is not difficult to conclude that America in 2012 is more misogynist than it is racist. The only female among the Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential election dropped out of the race today, so — even though 50.8% of the U.S. population is female — a woman will not be elected president this year.

    Get Real: Gender parity in state and federal government decision-making processes will not happen soon in America if election voting is required.

    Get Real: Women are as diverse in their political opinions as men are: just as liberal at one extreme and just as conservative at the other.

    Even so, it is possible to make the U.S. Supreme Court gender neutral, and that monumental change in U.S. governance should be done as soon as possible. Men should not be making, interpreting, and enforcing laws regarding women’s bodies without granting women an equal say in the matter, but such an outrage as that is an everyday occurrence in America in 2012.

    Someone please tell me: Why do women not support Supreme Court Gender Equality? What is that? Read this:

    Steven A. Sylwester

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