Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein has strongly criticized an action by Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius taking the unprecedented step of overruling the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to expand access to the Morning After Pill (MAP). "The Obama administration is clearly more concerned about political battle over access to contraceptives during an election year than the health of millions of women in the U.S.," said Stein, a graduate of and former faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
"This decision should have been based on science and women’s right to health care, not appeasement of birth control opponents. Once again, the Obama Administration has shown its willingness to sacrifice principle for political expediency, and the result is a further restriction on the right of women to control our own bodies," added Stein.
The FDA’s review of the scientific evidence and 60 national medical groups recommended that MAP be available without a prescription. Women in more than 46 other countries can get MAP without a prescription.
Experts says there is no medical basis for refusing women access to MAP based on age. The Morning-After Pill is a safe and effective form of contraception that can prevent pregnancy after sex. It can be taken within 5 days of sex, is most effective when taken within 24 hours and can reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy by up to 89% percent, according to www.not-2-late.com.
On December 7, 2011, the FDA decided that the prescription requirement for women under 17 should be removed. This meant that millions of young women could get the pill over-the-counter without going through a doctor. This change would benefit all women - the pill would no longer be stuck “behind-the-counter.”
"The fight for accessing emergency contraceptives is a fight to access health care, something Democrats and Republicans alike restrict by refusing to implement a national, publicly-funded universal health care system," added Stein, a long-time advocate for a single payer, expanded and improved Medicare for All program.
Stein also took aim at the threatened Obama decision to restrict coverage of basic birth control under the Affordable Care Act. “It is astounding that the President is considering expansion of a sweeping refusal clause that allows predominantly secular colleges and hospitals with religious affiliations to deny birth control coverage for students and employees. This would take reproductive health back into the 19th Century.”
Stein noted that the new health law already restricts access to private health insurance policies that cover abortion. If the new law is fully implemented, it will be impossible for some women to choose a health insurance plan that covers abortion without paying an additional fee, and some companies can refuse to offer plans that cover abortion completely.
Stein pointed out that the opposition by both the Obama White House and both parties in Congress to making health care a universal right --like the rest of the industrialized world-- actually contributes to a higher rate of abortion. Abortions are obviously unnecessary when women have unimpeded access to birth control and can prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. In countries with single payer health care for all programs, where family planning and abortion services are free and more accessible than in America, abortion rates are actually significantly lower than in the United States.