Update: Obama Administration has appealed.

Responding to a court order the Obama Administration begrudgingly approved over-the-counter sales of Plan B or “the morning after pill” to ages 15 and up. But the court order required all ages to have access to the medicine.

The Obama administration on Tuesday approved over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill for age 15 and above, a move that contradicts a court order requiring the pill to be made available to women of all ages.

While it fell short of that order, the administration’s move represents a historic liberalization of contraception rules — perhaps the most significant since the morning-after drug was approved 14 years ago. Today, Plan B is available to teenagers younger than 17 only with a prescription. Older women must request it from a pharmacist.

Not exactly easy to get a prescription if you are afraid of allowing others to know about your sexual activity. The Obama Administration’s move is somewhat confusing given that they might not appeal the decision and thus making the 15 and older plan moot. However, initiating this new program may signal that they are standing closer to their initial position and will appeal the ruling.

The FDA’s decision Tuesday, coming so close to that deadline and in conflict with Korman’s order, triggered confusion among women’s-health advocates. Some groups interpreted the FDA’s move as a precursor to an appeal. The Justice Department and the White House declined to comment on whether the Obama administration would challenge the ruling.

If the administration decides against an appeal, the FDA’s move Tuesday would become only symbolic. Women of all ages would soon gain access to the pill, which could be sold next to painkillers and toothpaste, though it could take weeks or months before the drug is on shelves.

Hopefully the Obama Administration will stop standing in the way of progress for women’s health in America and comply with the court order.

Photo by White House under Public Domain