Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell today pressed the Obama administration to provide a scientific reason for its decision last week to block a plan that would have made emergency contraceptives more widely available.
The two Washington state senators, along with a dozen other senators, requested the explanation in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleeen Sebelius. Last week, Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration's decision that the contraceptives be sold over the counter, including to teenagers 16 years old and younger.
The controversy is over the pill called Plan B One-Step. It's available without a prescription to those 17 and older, while those 16 and younger need a prescription.
In their letter, the senators ask Sebelius to prove the “specific rationale” and “scientific data” for overruling the FDA.
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“We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science,” the letter said. "We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.” The others who signed the letter were: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Carl Levin (D-MI), John Kerry (D-MA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).