WASHINGTON - - The Justice Department hasn't yet said whether it will appeal today's ruling by a federal judge, striking down the age restrictions on the over-the-counter purchases of the morning-after pill.
The judge said the restrictions are "arbitrary" and "unreasonable," and that they must end within 30 days. That means consumers of any age could buy the emergency contraception without a prescription. As it stands now, women have to prove they're 17 or older.
The Food and Drug Administration had been preparing to lift all age limits on Plan B One-Step in late 2011 -- but in an unprecedented move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists, citing concern for young girls. President Barack Obama said he supported the decision.
The move shocked women's groups. And in today's ruling, Judge Edward Korman blasted Sebelius for what he called an "obviously political" decision.
One group supporting access to the contraceptive calls today's ruling a "landmark decision" in giving women and girls access to a "safe and effective form of birth control."
But social conservatives are criticizing the ruling. Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council says it "places the health of young girls at risk" -- because it removes the involvement of parents and medical professionals.