PLAN B-ACKLASH

PLAN B-ACKLASH. There's apparently hell to pay when you point out that there's no scientific or medical reason to deny women over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. Although the Bush administration and Congress requested and allocated a full $4 million in funding for the Office of Women's Health, the FDA plans to withhold more than a quarter of that money -- $1.2 million.

Martha R. Nolan, a vice president at the Society for Women's Health Research, a Washington advocacy group, said that big budget bites in Washington are often the beginning of the end and that she worries that this is retribution for the Plan B controversy.

"We fear this is the first step toward eliminating the Office of Women's Health," Nolan said. "We must not allow this office to be eliminated or reduced to an empty shell that has no program funding."

But if the funding cut becomes official, the office is going to be in a bind now, not just in the future. They've already spent or allocated the remaining portion of their budget for this fiscal year, which means that program operations will come to a grinding halt if they don't receive the additional $1.2 million they were counting on. That'll teach them to stand up to the FDA.

--Ann Friedman

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