Moreover, Korman noted that numerous over-the-counter drugs are dangerous for children, but are still sold nevertheless without age requirements, while "these emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter."
"It has been clear for a long time that the medical and scientific community think this should be fully over the counter and is safe for women of all ages to use," said Dr. Susan Wood, who resigned as FDA's women's health chief in 2005 to protest Bush administration foot-dragging over Plan B.
"Having worked on this for many years, the judge really wanted to make it clear that FDA had come to a scientific determination and was once again overruled, and that is not acceptable," she added.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed suit against the age restriction, and other groups have argued that contraceptives are being held to a different and non-scientific standard than other drugs and that politics has played a role in decision-making.
"I think this is a landmark decision in terms of providing women and girls in the United States access to a safe and effective form of birth control," said attorney Andrea Costello with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.
Social conservatives criticized the ruling.
"This ruling places the health of young girls at risk," said Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council. "There is a real danger that Plan B may be given to young girls, under coercion or without their consent. The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today's ruling removes these commonsense protections."
The judge said the FDA decided after 11 months, 47,000 public comments and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars spent, that it did not need rulemaking on the subject.