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    Justice Department appeals ruling on access to morning-after pill

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday appealed a federal judge’s order to lift all age limits on who can buy morning-after birth control pills without a prescription.

    The decision came a day after the Food and Drug Administration lowered the age that people can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription to 15 — younger than the current limit of 17 — and decided the pill could be sold on drugstore shelves near the condoms, instead of locked behind pharmacy counters.

    With the appeal, the government is making clear that it is willing to ease access to emergency contraception only some — and not nearly as broadly as doctors’ groups and contraception advocates have urged.


    The order by US District Judge Edward Korman of New York would allow girls and women of any age to buy not only Plan B but its cheaper generic competition as easily as they can buy aspirin. Korman gave the FDA 30 days to comply, and the Monday deadline was approaching fast.

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    In Wednesday’s filing, the Justice Department said Korman exceeded his authority and that his decision should be suspended while that appeal is under way, meaning only Plan B One-Step would appear on drugstore shelves until the case is finally settled.

    ‘‘We are deeply disappointed that just days after President Obama proclaimed his commitment to women’s reproductive rights, his administration has decided once again to deprive women of their right to obtain emergency contraception without unjustified and burdensome restrictions,’’ said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit that prompted Korman’s ruling.

    The FDA actually had been poised to lift all age limits and let Plan B sell over the counter in late 2011, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists. Sebelius said some girls as young as 11 were physically capable of bearing children but shouldn’t be able to buy the pregnancy-preventing pill on their own.

    Sebelius’ move was unprecedented, and Korman had blasted it as election-year politics — meaning he was overruling not just a government agency but a Cabinet secretary.

    Associated Press

    Obama advisers turn tech savvy to private consulting


    WASHINGTON — A group of advisers who helped President Obama win reelection are launching a consulting firm that will try to translate the skills and technological tools that won political campaigns into a force in the private sector.

    The firm, which will be called Precision, is being started by several top Obama aides, including Stephanie Cutter, a longtime Democratic operative and a Raynham, Mass., native who was one of Obama’s deputy campaign managers; Jen O’Malley Dillon, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee originally from Franklin, Mass., another of Obama’s deputy campaign managers; and Teddy Goff, who oversaw Obama’s digital strategy.

    “Turn your supporters from passive fans to active evangelists,” reads a summary of the new firm’s pitch that was obtained by the Globe. “We specialize in helping companies, causes, and campaigns devise precisely the right game plan for your brand’s success. And then we help deploy it both online and off.”

    The firm says it will offer a range of services that were honed on political campaigns but could be easily applied to the private sector. Those include branding, crisis management, digital strategy, and strategic planning.

    The firm also says it will help companies use data, analytics, and grassroots organizations to better promote themselves.


    Obama’s campaign was well-known for its use of new data tools and the ability to use micro targeting to identify likely voters and getting them to the polls.

    This new firm won’t be the first time that former Obama aides have taken their skills to the private sector.

    Longtime Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, a North Reading native, recently left the White House and joined Dedham native Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National ­Security Council, in starting a communications consulting firm called Fenway Strategies.

    They are ­also planning to collaborate on a screenplay or television ­series about their time in Washington.

    Matt Viser

    Suspect in attempt to kill Obama upset at pot policy

    WASHINGTON — An Idaho man charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama by shooting at the White House practiced with his weapon for six months and may have been upset about US marijuana policy, prosecutors said in a newly filed court document.

    Prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez called Obama an antichrist.

    Oscar Ramiro Ortega- ­Hernandez is currently awaiting trial for the 2011 shooting, which didn’t injure anyone but left more than five bullet marks on the executive mansion. Prosecutors filed a 14-page court document Tuesday that adds additional detail about Ortega-Hernandez, who allegedly shot at the White House the night of Nov. 11 while the president and Michelle Obama were away.

    Ortega-Hernandez, 22, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted assassination charge and to other charges.

    In the document, prosecutors said Ortega-Hernandez ‘‘expressed anger toward the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana,’’ which they said he acknowledged smoking and claimed makes people more intelligent.

    A status conference in the case is set for June 18.

    Associated Press