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FDA Official Quits Over Pill Delay

GENERIC Morning after pill, womens health birth control
CBS/AP
A high-ranking Food and Drug Administration official resigned Wednesday in protest of the agency's refusal to allow over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception.

Susan Wood, director of FDA's Office of Women's Health, announced her resignation in an e-mail to colleagues at the agency. The e-mail was released by contraception advocates.

The FDA on Friday postponed indefinitely its decision on whether to allow the morning-after pill, called Plan B, to sell without a prescription. The agency said it was safe for adults to use without a doctor's guidance, but said young teenagers still needed a prescription and that it couldn't determine how to enforce an age limit, a decision contrary to the advice of its own scientific advisers.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," wrote Wood, who also was assistant commissioner for women's health. "The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions, is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health."

Wood, a biologist, joined FDA's women's health office in 2000, after directing women's health programs at its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. She has worked as a research scientist and a prominent congressional adviser.

FDA spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino did not immediately comment on the resignation.

The morning-after pill is a high dose of regular birth control that, taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.