News Briefs

HHS secretary vetoes morning-after pill

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has red lighted the morning-after pill for teens under 17, without a prescription.

Before the ruling, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was preparing to raise the age limit of individuals seeking emergency contraception, and allow it to be sold over the counter to anyone. But HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the agency and said she was concerned that very young girls couldn't properly understand how to use it without guidance from an adult.

The Plan B One-Step pill can prevent pregnancy if taken soon after unprotected sex. Presently, only adults 17 and older can buy the "morning after" pill, if they show the pharmacist proof of age.

Abortion battle in full swing in D.C.

Pro-life advocate and Arizona representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) is chairing a House hearing to support the Prenatal NonDiscrimination Act (PreNDA). The measure would ban abortions performed on the basis of gender or race.

"It would simply say that you cannot discriminate against the unborn by subjecting them to an abortion based on their race or sex," Franks says in media reports.

Franks says that according to a finding by the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women. Franks also believes that sex-selection abortions are on the rise in the United States.

PreNDA contains civil penalties and jail time for those who violate the ban, but not the women who seek or obtain abortions. Franks has said publicly that he believes women who find themselves with an unintended pregnancy are victims who need help in the midst of a crisis, not punishment. However, physicians who perform abortions solely for sex- or race-selection purposes could face fines and penalties of up to five years in prison.

The bill has about 60 co-sponsors, but opponents don't believe the bill has a chance of being passed this term.