A government appeal of a ruling giving women of all ages broad access to morning-after birth control is frivolous, a federal judge in New York said Friday as he refused to suspend enforcement of his decision pending appeal.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn did agree to postpone implementation of his month-old decision until Monday to give the government time to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
"Indeed, in my view, the defendants' appeal is frivolous and is taken for the purpose of delay," Korman wrote.
A government spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
The government had warned that "substantial market confusion" could result if Korman's ruling was enforced while appeals are pending.
The judge had ruled that the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill could be sold to everyone without a prescription.
The Food and Drug Administration last week announced the contraception could be sold without a prescription to those 15 and older. Sales had previously been limited to those who were at least 17.
In court papers, attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights have said every day that the ruling does not get enforced is "life-altering" to some women.
They said a delay for the duration of appeals "will perpetuate — for months, or years — the unconscionable delays that have permeated the defendants' actions with regard to emergency contraception."
At a hearing earlier this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Franklin Amanat defended the slow pace of the court case, saying: "Sometimes the people are better served when the government acts deliberately and incrementally."
In ordering that the contraceptive be made widely available, Korman last month criticized the government, saying its actions to limit sales of the drugs were "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent."
The FDA was preparing in 2011 to allow over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill with no agency limits when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists in an unprecedented move.
In his Friday order, Korman said the "FDA is not the problem," placing the blame solely with Sebelius.
"She has not changed her position," he said. "A remand would thus be futile."