The controversial morning-after pill, also known as "Plan B" was back in court Monday, March 23.
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ordered the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider making the pill available to a minor at age 17, without a prescription.
The pill is currently available to women 18 years of age and older without a prescription, but is sold behind the counter so the pharmacist can see a photo ID.
In his 52-page decision, Korman said "the record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug from prescription to non-prescription use."
Plan B, or "emergency contraception", essentially, is a high dosage of the birth control pill. It is recommended for use after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing pregnancy. Plan B is prescribed as a packet of two pills containing synthetic progestin, a type of hormone naturally made in a woman's body.
The drug works in the same way as a typical birth control pill in that it prevents the release of an egg from the ovary so fertilization cannot happen. If ovulation has already occurred, Plan B can also prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg.
Plan B is not the same as the drug known as the "abortion pill" or RU-486. That drug is used to end an existing pregnancy by causing the uterus to force out the fertilized egg. Plan B only prevents a pregnancy, it cannot end a pregnancy. And it shouldn't be taken by pregnant women for that purpose.
A decision is expected within 30 days.