A federal judge on Friday ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the "morning-after" emergency contraception pill available without a prescription to all girls of reproductive age.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, comes in a lawsuit brought by reproductive-rights groups that had sought to remove age and other restrictions on emergency contraception.
Currently, only women age 17 or older can obtain emergency contraception pills without a prescription. Point-of-sale restrictions require that all women present identification to a pharmacist before obtaining the drug.
In his ruling, Korman said the FDA's rejection of requests to remove age restrictions to obtain the pill had been "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable."
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, hailed the ruling. "Women all over the country will no longer face arbitrary delays and barriers just to get emergency contraception," she said.
FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson declined to comment on the ruling, saying it was an ongoing legal matter.