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Judge: Group has right to sue Food and Drug Administration • Brooklyn Paper

Judge: Group has right to sue Food and Drug Administration

A group of reproductive rights advocates outraged that the morning-after pill known as Plan B will not be easily available to girls younger than 17 have a right to sue the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a Brooklyn federal court judge ruled on Dec. 14.

Citing that the age restrictions meted out by the federal governent are “based on politics, not science,” Judge Edward Korman invited the Center for Reproductive Rights to re-open its nearly decade-old case against the federal agency — which claims that girls under 17 shouldn’t get the morning-after pill because they wouldn’t understand the instructions on the bottle.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition demanding that women of all ages be allowed to buy Plan B pills — which can prevent an unwanted pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after having sex — without a prescription back in 2001, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration never did anything with the request. The Center filed a lawsuit against the Administration in 2005, compelling it to remove the age restrictions, but the federal government denied the group’s petition a year later.

Reproductive rights advocates fought the decision and in 2009, Judge Korman ruled that the federal agency “acted in bad faith,” and ordered that Plan B be available without a prescription to all women over 17. He also ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review it’s age restrictions, according to Reuters news service. The federal government announced on Monday that it wouldn’t change its restrictions.

“Neither [the] petition nor any of the public comments [in the suit] contain sufficient data to satisfy the statutory requirements for U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove the [presciption] requirements for Plan B for women under the age of 17,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in its decision.

The Center for Reproductive Rights returned to court. In turn, Korman was surprised that the decision about Plan B came from Health and Human Services, not from the Food and Drug Administration.

“This is the first time in history the [Health and Human Services] has overruled the [Federal Drug Administration],” Korman said. “It raises the question of whether these decisions were based on politics or science.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Landau, representing the Food and Drug Administration, said that the agency’s decision was based purely on “scientific proof.”

He explained that since a woman will have to take two doses of the Plan B pill 12 hours apart in order for it to work, that made the medication more complicated to use, and girls under 17 wouldn’t be able to follow the instructions.

Korman disagreed, allowing the Center for Reproductive Rights to file a new lawsuit.

Elevator repairman facing jail

An elevator repairman at SUNY Downstate Medical Center is facing 25-years in prison for allegedly ignoring safety protocols that left a 47-year-old woman with serious injuries.

District Attorney Charles Hynes charged Jason Jordan, 27, with recklessly repairing an elevator inside the Clarkson Avenue building on Christmas Day, 2010. Jordan was working on a faulty elevator at the hospital, and in doing so, allegedly disabled a safety switch that allowed building elevators to move while the door remained open.

A few minutes later, the victim and her daughter entered another elevator. When the two stepped into the elevator, it began to move while the doors were open, pinning the 47-year-old’s left arm and leg between the elevator and the landing. The elevator went up eight floors, crushing the woman’s arms and legs between additional floors as it made its ascent, Hynes said.

Jordan was released without bail. Outside court, he told reporters that he was not to blame.

Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at ttracy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2525.

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