Pro-con: Did Sebelius make right call on Plan B?

Kathleen Sebelius made the right decision on Plan B One-Step, the emergency contraceptive. As secretary of health and human services, Sebelius overruled a decision by the Food and Drug Administration allowing the drug to be sold over the counter to girls under age 17. The drug has been available without a prescription to women 17 and older since 2009. Sebelius said the drugmaker had not adequately studied the possible side effects of the drug on pre-teenage girls. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg issued a statement saying the drug was safe to sell over the counter. We respect those who want FDA decisions to be based on science alone. Up to a point, they should be. The uncertain effects of Plan B One-Step on girls as young as 11, some of whom can become pregnant, puts science into a human development context in this case. Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, deserves credit for using common sense to seek more information before Plan B One-Step becomes available over the counter to girls so young they may have no idea what it does or what it might do to them. — Winfield Daily Courier

In overruling decisions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s professional staff and its commissioner to allow easier access to the emergency contraception Plan B One-Step, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ignored scientific evidence and a carefully conducted two-year inquiry. Sebelius had the authority to do so, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Given the medical risks and financial consequences of unplanned teenage pregnancies, her decision advances neither public health nor the public interest. FDA’s job is not family counseling. Its job is to examine and assess scientific evidence to determine if drugs are safe, if they work, if there are reasons to restrict their availability and, if so, what those restrictions should be. That’s what the FDA finally had done regarding Plan B. It is what Sebelius now has undone. — St. Louis Post-Dispatch