The Obama administration is giving up its fight against making one form of emergency contraception available over the counter, a move that affects an ever-increasing share of women and girls.
The decision reflects more a political calculus than a shift in the president's desire to limit access to such contraceptives for young girls, according to reports. Losing an appeal of recent court rulings could raise the fight to the Supreme Court, which as The New York Times explains, "would drastically elevate the debate over the politically delicate issue for Mr. Obama." The decision affects the availability of the best-known morning-after contraceptive pill, Plan B One-Step, but would likely eventually also pave the way for generics.
The share of women and girls who have turned to emergency contraceptives—a method of after-the-fact pregnancy prevention—has been on the rise in recent years, according to a February Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
Eleven percent—roughly one in nine—women reported having used an emergency contraceptive between 2006 and 2010, up from 4.2 percent in 2002 and 1 percent in 1995, according to the report. More than half had used it once, about one-fourth had used it twice, and fewer than one-fifth reported using it more than that.
That share was higher among women aged 15 to 19, with roughly one in seven—or 14 percent—reporting having used an emergency contraceptive, defined in the study as pills or intrauterine device. Emergency contraceptive use was also higher among women with at least some college education.