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Editorial: Court puts science, stats before politics on Plan B

Under an Obama administration rule, the morning-after pill hasn’t been for sale on drugstore shelves.

But pregnancy tests have been.

Is it any wonder New Mexico has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States, a nation in which half of all pregnancies are unintended? Could it be any more tragic that New Mexico ranks near the top in child-abuse deaths?

Last week a federal judge rejected the administration’s 2011 decision to hide the medically safe contraceptive as the political pandering that it was. Now, the Food and Drug Administration should take its administration-induced medicine, forgo an appeal and allow the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive and its generic equivalents — which release a very low dose of hormones to prevent ovulation but do not terminate pregnancy — to come out from behind pharmacy counters next month and be placed on drugstore shelves.

Next to condoms, spermicides and pregnancy tests.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman issued a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ scientifically odious overruling of FDA scientists, who were prepared to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B One-Step with no age limits. Sebelius bowed to political pressure and forced pharmacies to card potential buyers and reject all under age 17 unless they returned with a prescription.

New Mexico is full of babies having babies. The dream of a celebratory quinciñera/baby shower combo is overshadowed by the realities of abject poverty and high school dropouts at best and young parents arrested for beating their infants to death at worst.

It is troubling so many of New Mexico’s teens are sexually active, but at $40-$50 a pill, it’s unlikely Plan B is what is going to encourage more to go all the way.

But it might help keep some of New Mexico’s young women from paying a much higher price, either by choosing to end a pregnancy by abortion or subjecting another unwanted child to a life of poverty and pain.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.