The federal government on Monday filed a last-minute appeals court motion to postpone a Brooklyn federal judge's decision allowing the sale of the controversial morning-after contraceptive pill to women and girls of all ages without a prescription, proof of age or photo IDs.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to consider the request for a stay pending appeal on May 28, and delayed at least until then U.S. District Judge Edward Korman's order that the Food and Drug Administration drop restrictions on the emergency contraceptive.
Korman in April struck down regulations requiring girls younger than 17 to have a prescription and allowing women 17 and older to buy the pill only at a pharmacy after showing ID. Last week, he refused to extend a stay on the ruling pending appeal, but agreed to hold it in abeyance until noon Monday to give the government time to go to the appeals court.
The Justice Department said in its court papers on Monday that Korman "overstepped his authority," and that to allow his ruling to take effect while an appeal is still pending would produce "confusion." The Center for Reproductive Rights, which has pursued the case for nearly a decade, said further delays will violate women's right to have easy access to the pill.
Since Korman first ruled, the Obama administration has loosened restrictions. On April 30, the FDA agreed to make one product -- Teva Pharmaceuticals' Plan B One-Step pill -- available over the counter to women over 15 who show proof of age.
But Korman on Friday said the new policy still would unfairly limit the pill's availability by raising costs and disadvantaging young and poor women who frequently don't have IDs, as well as girls younger than 15.
The FDA is supposed to ensure that drugs are safe and effective. Korman found in April that the Obama administration allowed political considerations and controversy about teen pregnancies to override scientific evidence that the pill is safe for women of all ages, and works. He compared it to aspirin.
The judge has called the appeals "frivolous."