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Government appeals 'morning-after pill' ruling

The Obama administration filed its expected appeal on Monday of a judge's order to make the so-called "morning-after pill" available to anyone, without a prescription.

The federal government asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to postpone federal judge Edward Korman’s ruling against the Health and Human Services Department’s requirement that anyone under 17 get a prescription for the emergency contraception.

Korman refused on Friday to stay his ruling while the appeals court considered the appeal, calling the government’s legal attempts “frivolous” and saying they were done in bad faith.

Women’s health groups had sued against the HHS decision, which had overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s original approval of Plan B birth control pills for women and girls of all ages. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had said she wasn’t comfortable seeing the pills freely available to girls as young as 11.

The FDA, which had protected against Sebelius’s decision, last month approved another drug application to make one brand available over the counter to girls as young as 15, but still requiring proof of age.

Korman railed against both decisions and has accused the government of simply trying to delay the inevitable.

For now, things are a bit confusing. The appeal, technically filed by the Food and Drug Administration, asks the appeals court to stop Korman's ruling from taking effect until the case is settled.

Teva Pharmaceutical’s single-pill option, called Plan B One-Step, is available with ID to anyone 15 and older. Anyone younger needs a prescription to get it.

Other versions of the medication are available to anyone 17 and older with proof of age, and to anyone younger with a prescription.

"You have to show an ID either way," said Judy Waxman of the National Women's Law Center. Waxman  predicts the appeals court will stay Korman's decision until a hearing can be scheduled on the appeal. "This could take months again until we get the Second Circuit decision," Waxman said in a telephone interview.

Related:

Judge refuses to delay Plan B ruling, has choice words for HHS

Judge: Make 'morning-after pill' available to all girls without prescription