"Plan B" Coverage Shows Clear Labeling Bias Against Social Cons

Not a pro-abortion group, but a "women's health advocate."

A federal judge yesterday ordered the FDA to make the so-called morning-after birth control pill available without a prescription to 17-year-olds (the previous rule had set the age at 18). The headline assumed that the previous limits had been an unfair burden: "Contraception Pill Strictures Are Eased By a Judge."

The paper's pro-liberal labeling bias was evident, as reporter Natasha Singer termed a pro-abortion group a "women's health advocate," but called an opponent of the judge's decision "conservative."

A federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to make the Plan B morning-after birth control pill available without prescription to women as young as 17.

The judge ruled that the agency had improperly bowed to political pressure from the Bush administration in 2006 when it set 18 as the age limit.

The agency has 30 days to comply with the order, in which the judge also urged the agency to consider removing all restrictions on over-the-counter sales of Plan B. The drug consists of two pills that prevent conception if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.

Some women's health advocates hailed the decision.

"It is a complete vindication of the argument that reproductive rights advocates have been making for years, that in the Bush administration it was politics, not science, driving decisions around women's health," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the attorneys for the plaintiff in the suit against the F.D.A.

By contrast, the one opposition voiced quoted, the Family Research Council, didn't get a flattering designation like "pro-family organization," but was simply tagged "conservative."

But some conservative groups voiced concern that the ruling could promote sexual promiscuity. "Now some minor girls will be able to obtain this drug without any guidance from a doctor and without any parental supervision," the Family Research Council said in a statement.

FRC has been cited 14 times in the last 12 months in Times news reports and been labeled conservative or Christian conservative in eight of those stories. By contrast, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has a lower profile, has been cited in three stories over the same time period, none of which deployed the unpopular labels of "abortion" or "liberal" to describe the group. The CRR did manage to get three letters published on the Times editorial page during the last 12 months, including one from group president Northrup just eight days ago on the very subject of Plan B.