Monday, August 21, 2006

Great News!

From The Carpetbagger Report:

For several years, the administration has stalled, lied, and obfuscated when it came to making Plan B emergency contraception available to women without a prescription. Finally, earlier this month, the FDA indicated it would approve Barr Pharmaceuticals' application, and in the process, smooth the way for Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach to be approved as the head of the FDA.

The religious right was less-than happy about the announcement, particularly after Von Eschenbach testified last week that he saw no reason to restrict the sale of Plan B to women over 18. Several far-right groups, including James Dobson's Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, ultimately asked that the president withdraw von Eschenbach's nomination before he could be approved by the Senate.

With this in mind, it was particularly interesting to hear the president respond to the very last question from today's press conference.

Q: Thank you very much. Mr. President, some pro-life groups are worried that your choice of FDA Commissioner will approve over the counter sales of Plan B, a pill that, they say, essentially can cause early-term abortions. Do you stand by this choice, and how do you feel about Plan B in general?

Bush: I believe that Plan B ought to be — ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy's decision.

Oddly enough, so do I, and with the president's public statement this morning, it seems almost certain that the correct policy will be implemented, two full years after an FDA advisory panel voted 23 to 4 to approve over-the-counter access to Plan B, with one panel member calling it the "safest drug that we have seen brought before us."

Two things to keep in mind: one, if Bush hadn't let politics trump science, Plan B could have been widely available two years ago, preventing an unknown number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. And two, the Dobson crowd is going to be thoroughly displeased by today's comments. I'll let you know just how far the religious right is willing to go in its criticism, but it might get a little ugly.


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