Lead Plaintiffs in Lawsuit Against FDA Call Crawford's Confirmation an Insult to Women, Demand the FDA approve Plan B for Over-the-Counter Sales

Statement of Annie Tummino, lead plaintiff of Tummino v. Crawford:
We, the plaintiffs in Tummino V. Crawford, regret that Lester Crawford was confirmed as FDA commissioner yesterday. We are suing Crawford because he is violating the rights of American women by withholding over-the-counter access to the Morning-After Pill- a safe, effective form of birth control. The full text of the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Annie Tummino and eight other women from the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy (including all contacts listed above), can be found at http://www.reproductiverights.org/crt_contraception.html#tummino.

 

The FDA has announced that a decision on the Morning-After Pill (MAP) will be made by September 1st, two years after Bar Laboratories submitted an application to make Plan B (a brand of the MAP) over-the-counter, and four years after over seventy medical and women’s organizations filed a “Citizen’s Petition” calling for the same action. We demand that Crawford stop holding American women’s health hostage by approving the application for over-the-counter sales immediately. In December of 2003 the FDA’s own medical advisory committees voted 23-4 that the Morning-After Pill should go over-the-counter, and voted unanimously that it is safe for over-the-counter sales.

 

We also reject any attempt to give the Morning-After Pill behind-the-counter status in order to impose a medically unnecessary age restriction. Behind-the-counter status still creates new obstacles to timely access by forcing women to find a pharmacy that stocks MAP and a pharmacist who is willing to dispense it to us. We refuse to be carded for birth control or allow ourselves to be separated off from young women. If you are old enough to be pregnant, you are old enough to decide not to be pregnant.

 

In 38 other countries, this drug is available without a doctor’s prescriptions, but in the U.S. women have to jump through hoops to get it. We demand that the United States catch up.

 

I needed the Morning-After pill after I went away for a long weekend and got a couple of days behind on my daily birth control pills. I had sex with my boyfriend after I got back and realized I was in trouble. I needed the Morning-After Pill as back-up but I didn’t have it at my fingertips. I started to panic because I work at a small business, I had sole responsibility for opening the office day and my boss was out. My doctor’s office was closed that morning and there was no way I could wait in a clinic for hours to be seen. Thankfully, I found a New York City hotline that allows a doctor to call in a prescription to a pharmacy for you without actually seeing you in person. I took Plan B, had no side effects at all, and didn’t get pregnant.

 

Because the Morning-After Pill is most effective at preventing pregnancy within 24 hours after sex, it’s vital that women have immediate, over-the-counter access to it. Women know when we don’t want to get pregnant- we shouldn’t need a doctor or pharmacist’s permission to control our lives.                                                                                                                  [more]

 

In January, nine women from the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy were arrested for sitting in at the FDA and demanding the Morning-After Pill go over-the-counter for all women. We have defied the prescription requirement by illegally distributing the Morning-After Pill and more than 2,500 women from across the country have pledges to do the same. (For more info go to

www.mapconspiracy.org). We pledge further acts of civil disobedience if Lester Crawford continues to hold hostage women’s access to birth control.

 

What is the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy?  The MAP Conspiracy is a coalition of feminist organizations leading the grassroots movement to make the Morning-After Pill an over-the-counter drug. The name is a tongue-and-cheek reference to the fact that women have to conspire to break the law just to get the Morning-After Pill. The FDA’s burdensome prescription requirement forces us to rely on friends who may have it because we cannot get MAP quickly when the need arises. We have held speak-outs on why women need easy access to the MAP and defied the prescription requirement by publicly handing out the pill in New York City, DC, Maryland and Florida. More than 2,500 women around the country have signed the pledge to defy the prescription by "Giving a friend the Morning-After Pill.” The pledge is available online at www.mapconspiracy.org.

 

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