[HHS photo by Chris Smith]

Obama administration admits defeat on Plan B. [HHS photo by Chris Smith]

AFTER BEING excoriated and publicly flogged over playing politics with Plan B by Judge Korman, who said the Obama administration’s decision to restrict the Morning-After Pill “was politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent,” President Obama has instructed the Government’s lawyer to walk away from the fight. It ends an embarrassing chapter for the White House where teenage girls were held hostage and not allowed a perfectly safe product that could stop an unintended pregnancy.

But just in case you thought this was fully sane policy, wait until you hear the distinction still in place. Plan B One-Step will have all age restrictions removed, but the two-step product will not.

From the Administration’s letter to Judge Korman:

We write to advise the Court that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and theDepartment of Health and Human Services (HHS) have complied with the Court’s April 10, 2013, judgment in the above-referenced case by granting the 2001 Citizen Petition and making Plan B One-Step (PBOS) available over-the-counter (OTC) without age or point-of-sale restrictions as described below. It is the government’s understanding that this course of action fully complies with the Court’s judgment in this action. Once the Court confirms that the government’s understanding is correct, the government intends to file with the Circuit Court notice that it is voluntarily withdrawing its appeal in this matter.

Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood was ecstatic, saying “This is a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity.” [New York Times]

As public policy, Plan B One Step is important, because it comes with the medical and scientific communities weighing in that Plan B One Step is absolutely safe for women, no matter the age. This means teens will have access to perfectly safe emergency contraception, without interference, which can stop an unintended pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of having sex.

The Obama administration should have let Plan B One Step on the shelves months ago, with Judge Korman correct when he accused the Administration of “bad faith,” saying also that, “The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition… Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster.”

You don’t deserve any credit for doing the medically sound thing after getting pilloried for a political move that hurts teenagers and other women.