Past Event

What’s the Plan B for Plan B?

12:00 - 10:30 AM EDT

What’s the Plan B for Plan B?

For over two years, Plan B, also known as “the morning after pill,” has been awaiting approval from the FDA to be sold over the counter (OTC) without a prescription. Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. If made available for sale without a prescription, it is estimated that Plan B could significantly reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and the rate of abortion in this country. Although the prospect of preventing abortions might seem a compelling reason to approve OTC status, the FDA has let the application languish – against the recommendation of its own professional staff and amidst allegations that the agency has allowed politics and ideology to trump evidence and science. Following the FDA’s latest deferral of a ruling, Susan Wood resigned from her post as Director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health. Those who want to expand access to Plan B are now wondering whether a decision by the agency will ever be forthcoming and debating what can be done to ensure approval.

Please join Dr. Wood and our other esteemed panelists to discuss the numerous issues surrounding the Plan B application, the implications of the agency’s inaction, and thoughts on how to obtain more accountability and reliability from the executive branch.

• Intro, Jessica Arons
• Dr. Susan Wood
• Naina Dhingra
• Silvia Henriquez
• Chris Mooney
• Panel
• Q and A

Note: All video provided in  QuickTime (MPEG-4)  format.

• Transcript (PDF)
Plan B Timeline(opens in new window)

Dr. Susan F. Wood, former Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health and Director of the Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health
Naina Dhingra, Director of Public Policy, Advocates for Youth
Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Chris Mooney, Washington Correspondent, Seed magazine; Senior Correspondent, The American Prospect

Moderated by:
Jessica Aarons, Legal Policy Associate, Women’s Health Project and Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress

Monday, October 17, 2005
Program: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Light refreshments will be provided.
Admission is free.

Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
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call (202) 741-6246


Dr. Susan F. Wood formerly served as Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health and Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health (OWH). She joined the Office in November 2000. The mission of the OWH is to serve as a champion for women’s health, both inside and outside the Agency. Dr. Wood is also Adjunct Associate Professor at American University in the Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, where she teaches Women’s Health Policy at the Women and Politics Institute. Previously, Dr. Wood was the Director for Policy and Program Development at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, where she led the development of policy for the Office and recommended action for the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Secretary. She also coordinated the activities of the Public Health Service Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health, and represented the Office in the areas of international health, reproductive health, legislation, and health care policy. From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Wood worked on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, an organization of Members of Congress dedicated to advancing legislation which promotes legal, economic, and health equity for women, co-chaired by Reps. Patricia Schroeder and Olympia Snowe. Initially as Science Advisor and later as Deputy Director to the Caucus, Dr. Wood helped develop and promote the Women’s Health Equity Act, and was directly involved with many policy initiatives and legislative proposals which would advance biomedical research, women’s health, family planning, and health care reform. Awards that Dr. Wood has received include the Boston University Marine Program Alumni Award, a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Biophysical Society Congressional Science Fellowship, a Woman of Achievement Award, the Assistant Secretary for Health’s Superior Service Award (1999), the Keystone Award in Women’s Health Research (2000), the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award (2003), and the Commissioner’s Special Citation (2004). Dr. Wood recently received the Atlantic Fellowship in Public Policy, sponsored by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Council, and supported by FDA. She carried out research on women’s health policy in Britain at the UK Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency from November 2004 through June 2005.

Naina Dhingra is the Director of Public Policy for Advocates for Youth where she promotes domestic, federal, and international policies to promote comprehensive sexuality education, adolescent access to reproductive and sexual health information and services, and science-based HIV prevention. Prior to serving in this position, Ms. Dhingra worked in donor relations and communications for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Geneva, Switzerland. Before working for the Global Fund, Ms. Dhingra worked as a Public Affairs Associate for Advocates for Youth, coordinating the International Youth Leadership Council. Ms. Dhingra was a co-founder of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, a national, grassroots network of university students fighting global AIDS and a progressive campus activist at George Washington University. Ms. Dhingra was recognized as part of Choice USA’s “30 under 30” Activists for Choice in 2003 and was featured in the February 2005 edition of Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame.

Silvia Henriquez provides the type of cutting edge, dynamic leadership necessary to advance a national, Latina movement for reproductive justice. Before her leadership position at NLIRH, she co-authored Our Health, Our Rights: Reproductive Justice for Latinas in California during her tenure as a Health Policy Analyst for the Latino Issues Forum. Her experience also includes working as the Outreach Director of the National Abortion Federation and as the Coordinator of the national campus organizing program of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Ms. Henriquez also spent time in El Salvador working for labor issues and women’s rights. Silvia Henriquez serves on the boards of the Guttmacher Institute and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project. Recently, the National Women’s Health Network recognized Silvia Henriquez as one of the “Honor 30 for the 30th” activists, for her work on women’s health. She has a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Women’s Studies, both from The George Washington University.

Chris Mooney is Washington correspondent for Seed magazine and a senior correspondent for the American Prospect. He focuses on issues at the intersection of science and politics; recent articles include a Columbia Journalism Review feature story about the problem with “balance” in science coverage and a Boston Globe commentary on the political plight faced by scientists over the next four years. Chris’s first book, entitled The Republican War on Science, was published in September 2005 with Basic Books. Chris was born in Mesa, Arizona, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana; he graduated from Yale University in 1999, where he wrote a column for the Yale Daily News. Before becoming a freelance writer, Chris worked for two years at The American Prospect as a writing fellow, then staff writer, then online editor (where he helped to create the popular blog Tapped). Chris has contributed to a variety of other publications in recent years, including Wired, Slate, Salon, Mother Jones, Legal Affairs, Reason, The American Scholar, The Washington Monthly, The Utne Reader, Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, The Washington City Paper, and The Boston Globe. He also speaks regularly at academic meetings, to college classes, and on university campuses–recent stops include Harvard University, Franklin & Marshall College, and Rutgers University. More information about Chris can be found at .

Jessica Arons is a Legal Policy Associate for the Women’s Health Project and the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress. Most recently, Jessica served as a Staff Attorney Fellow with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Prior to working at the ACLU, she practiced labor and employment law at James & Hoffman, P.C. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Elizabeth B. Lacy on the Supreme Court of Virginia. She also worked at the White House and on the 1996 Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign prior to law school. Jessica is an honors graduate of Brown University and William and Mary School of Law. At William and Mary, Jessica was an Associate Editor of the William & Mary Law Review, Managing Editor of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, and a Board Member of the William & Mary Public Service Fund.