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Feds surrender: Teens can buy 'morning-after pill'

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Advocates for girls' and women's rights said Monday the federal government's decision to comply with the judge's ruling could be a move forward for "reproductive justice" if the FDA acts quickly and puts emergency contraception over the counter without restriction.

Annie Tummino, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over unrestricted access to the morning-after pill and coordinator of the National Women's Liberation, said women and girls should have "the absolute right to control our bodies without having to ask a doctor or a pharmacist for permission."

"It's about time that the administration stopped opposing women having access to safe and effective birth control," she said in an emailed statement.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards, in a statement, called the government's decision to drop the appeal "a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women's health and equity."

But opponents of easy access to the morning-after pill, such as the anti-abortion Family Research Council, criticized the government for not sticking with its decision to appeal.

"We're very concerned and disappointed at the same time because what we see here is the government caving to political pressure instead of putting first the health and safety of girls (and) parental rights," said Anna Higgins, director of the council's Center for Human Dignity.

The government had appealed the judge's underlying April 5 ruling, which ordered emergency contraceptives based on the hormone levonorgestrel be made available without a prescription, over the counter and without point-of-sale or age restrictions.

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