HHS Refuses to Give Teens Access to Plan B

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Young teenage girls won't be able to buy the controversial Plan B or "morning after" pill without a prescription.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled experts at the Food and Drug Administration, Wednesday -- rejecting a request to lower the age requirement for women wanting to purchase emergency contraception.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B One-Step, argued that some teenage girls younger than 17 are physically able to have children, and may need access to the pill.

But Sebelius disagreed, saying young girls don't properly understand how to use Plan B without guidance from an adult.

"It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age," she said in a statement.

"I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter for all girls of reproductive age," Sebelius added.

Women over the age of 17 can still buy the Plan B pill without a prescription. Those under 17 need a doctor's prescription.

Pharmacist Won't Sell Drug

"It's something that I think needs plenty of thought before someone takes and uses it," said Kevin Denoux, the owner of a pharmacy in Baton Rouge, La.

Denoux refuses to sell the morning after pill because of his personal convictions.

"Not only am I a father, but my oldest son is adopted. So I have very strong feelings about this," he said.

The FDA has classified Plan B as an emergency contraceptive. The drug is designed to prevent fertilization.

However, some say the pill should be labeled an abortion drug, because it stops the implantation of a fertilized egg.

"It changes the lining of the uterus so that an embryo can't implant or if an embryo is implanted, it can't survive. So it really should be labeled an abortion drug," explained Wendy Wright, the president and chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America.

Still, many doctors and women's health groups claim the drug is safe and doesn't terminate pregnancy. They argue parental consent for young teens should not be necessary.

"For anyone, even for someone older, they don't want their family knowing. It's really none of anyone else's business what they're doing," said Ashley Cole.

Plan B is available in most pharmacies across the country. But for small business owners like Denoux, it doesn't matter what the FDA decides, the drug won't be on store shelves.

"It may not be the best of business decisions, but it's the one I can go to sleep with at night," he said.

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