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The Obama administration moved Wednesday to keep girls under 15 from having over-the-counter access to morning-after pills, as the Justice Department filed a notice to appeal a judge’s order that would make the drug available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages. The appeal reaffirms an election-year decision by the Obama administration to block the drug’s maker from selling it without a prescription or consideration of age, and puts the White House back into the politically charged issue of access to emergency contraception.

The Justice Department’s decision to appeal is in line with the views of anti-abortion groups who do not want contraceptives made available to young girls. It was criticized by advocates for women’s reproductive health and abortion rights who cite years of scientific research saying the drug is safe and effective for all ages.

In December 2011, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, blocked the sale of the drug to young girls without a prescription, saying there was not enough data to prove that it would be safe. In doing so, Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA, which had moved, based on scientific research, to lift all age restrictions.

Last month Judge Edward R. Korman of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York criticized that decision as overtly political and ordered the administration to make the contraceptive widely available.