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Judge lifts stay on morning-after ruling

A federal judge in Brooklyn refused Friday to further stay his ruling ordering the government to allow morning-after pills to be sold to women and girls of all ages over the counter without a photo ID or proof of age.

The Obama administration had asked U.S. District Judge Edward Korman to extend a stay expiring Friday for the duration of a planned appeal. Korman did agree as a "courtesy" to give the Justice Department until Monday to ask the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put his ruling on hold.

The judge called the appeal "frivolous" and said further delay would wrongfully deprive women of easy access to the drug. "Showing proof of age . . . constitutes a substantial impediment to obtaining emergency contraception," he wrote.

A government spokesman said late Friday that the Justice Department was considering its options.

Korman's ruling, issued in early April, reversed Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring those younger than 17 to have a prescription and allowing women 17 and older to buy the pill only at a pharmacy after showing ID.

On April 30, the Food and Drug Administration announced a shift in policy, agreeing to make one product -- Teva Pharmaceuticals' Plan B One-Step pill -- available over the counter to girls as young as 15 who show proof of age.

But Korman, in his ruling Friday, said the new policy still unfairly limits availability of the pill 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 review the safety and effectiveness of drugs. Korman said in his April decision that the morning-after pill -- which eliminates pregnancy if taken soon after intercourse -- was proved safe and effective, but was restricted for political reasons due to controversy over its impact on teen pregnancy.

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