This is a question of politics superseding common sense.
In a decision in a lawsuit filed by advocates, the judge, Edward R. Korman of Federal District Court, ruled that the government's refusal to lift restrictions on access to the pill was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."
Judge Korman ordered the F.D.A. to lift any age and sale restrictions on the pill, Plan B One-Step, and its generic versions, within 30 days.
The F.D.A. and the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the ruling Friday morning or indicate whether the government would file an appeal, saying the decision, which was issued in the Eastern District of New York, was being reviewed.
The judge accused the federal government of "bad faith" in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available.
"More than 12 years have passed since the citizen petition was filed and 8 years since this lawsuit commenced," the judge wrote. "The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition. Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster."
He added, "The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency's misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the F.D.A. to engage in further delay and obstruction."
Scientists, including those at the F.D.A., have been recommending unrestricted access for years, as have major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2011, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, issued a statement saying that after rigorous study the agency concluded it was safe to sell Plan B One-Step over the counter. But she was overruled by Ms. Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, the first time such a public countermanding had ever occurred.
What is the problem with restricting the sale of Plan B to adults? The health of 13 and 14 year old girls is the responsibility of parents. If their child has been raped and doesn't want to report it, or is having unsafe, unprotected sex, no matter how embarrassing or painful for the child, parents need to be informed. It is not the responsibility of the state to shield children from the disapproval of their parents for thei choices.
The issue is not the safety of Plan B. It is one of parental responsibility. And the decision to market the product to young girls is a political one, not medical.