A move to make the so-called "morning after" pill available to younger teens without a parent's consent is stirring up controversy. A federal judge ruled Friday to allow emergency contraception to be sold without a prescription.
A ruling by a federal judge in New York could end the debate over how easy or difficult it should be for teenage girls to get emergency contraception.
The ruling on the so-called "morning after" pill overturns a controversial 2011 decision by the White House that ordered the Food and Drug Administration to keep in place restrictions on its use.
For more than a decade, the drug was available only by prescription to those 16 and younger -- but studies found instances where women of legal age were denied.
"I think that this [ruling] is a positive step, certainly for opening up access to emergency contraception for women, which is really something all of us should be able to get behind," said Laura Meyers of Planned Parenthood. "When we think about reducing unwanted pregnancy, emergency contraception is one more tool in the toolbox."
Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council worries easier access to the morning after pill could promote unsafe sexual behavior in young girls.
"The FDA apparently has 30 days to comply," Higgins said. "Our hope is that they will appeal this decision, because their decision was supported by this administration. The president supported [Department of Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius, and rightly so, because her decision reflects common sense and good medical judgment."
The judge's ruling concerns some parents.
"It's their body, but I'm their parent. If anything happens, I would be the one responsible," one mother said. "So I would definitely want to know."
On the streets at the George Washington University in Northwest D.C., several students said they were in favor of the ruling.
"I do think it's a good thing because it's really serious," a student said. "If a young girl is in that position where she needs to go and get something, it should be available."
Another said, "You never really know the context behind a situation. You can't always assume someone made a stupid decision."
Both the FDA and the drug company that brought the suit say they're still reviewing the decision, and are not ready to comment.