Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Plan B. The Morning After

It is no secret that I have never been in favor of the idea. Allowing teenage girls to have access to The Morning After or plan B pill without parental consent is nothing more than the government interfering in our rights as parents to raise our children.

The battle over universal access to the sale of emergency contraception, known as “Plan B” or the “morning after pill” has,  reached a conclusion. As I reported back in April, the FDA announced that it was lowering the minimum age for over-the-counter sales of the drug to 15 from 17, and today the White House announced it was withdrawing its previous opposition to the ruling, and removing all opposition to age restrictions in general, making it possible for any girl, of any age, to obtain the drug. Previously President Obama said he was “bothered by the idea of 10- or 11-year-old girls buying the drugs as easily as ‘bubble gum or batteries.’” President Obama went from being uncomfortable with 15-year-olds obtaining the pill to comfortable with 11-year-olds doing so in two short months.

I was convinced that the President was unmovable in his position.
But apparently not. I cannot believe that he is in favor of allowing his daughters to have access to dangerous drug.

 This was likely spurred on by pressure from the far left in this case “reproductive rights” advocates who see any attempt to regulate birth control or abortion as an affront. The Obama administration has reversed its opposition to over-the-counter sales of the pill, now putting it within reach of any consumer, regardless of age. 

The message this sends to children and parents alike is disturbing, to say the least. In a world where a 26-year-old is young enough to still qualify as a child on their parent’s health insurance, a child of 10 years of age can walk into any neighborhood drug store and purchase a massive dose of hormones with no oversight or supervision, not from their parents and not from medical professionals. As I have written previously, they are deluged with permission slips to ride the bus, to participate in after-school activities, for the school nurse to administer Tylenol or prescription drugs. 

A child cannot decide to take a pain reliever for a headache while on the school campus, but they can have full access to a powerful drug that might have an impact on their development. This is ridiculous, and has no levity in terms of health issues. All 50 states have ages restrictions on the purchase of alcohol. But there is no age restriction on young girls who seek to purchase this drug?

Previously, any teen under the age of 17 had to get a prescription to obtain the drug, which, taken up to 72 hours after intercourse, greatly lowers the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy. The reasoning behind the previous ruling was the hope that medical professionals would ensure that 14-year olds having intercourse were doing so with due care and legally (not as victims of statutory or forcible rape). 

Concerns about statutory rape are particularly acute in regard to the youngest adolescents. Although relatively small proportions of 13-14-year-olds have had intercourse, those who become sexually active at an early age are especially likely to have experienced coercive sex. 74% of women who had intercourse before age 14 and 60% of those who had sex before age 15 report having had a forced sexual experience. As policymakers and the public have become increasingly aware that the sexual partners of minor adolescent women are often not adolescents themselves but men 3-6 years older, concern has grown that protective measures, in the form of increasing enforcement of statutory rape laws, are necessary to guard these young women from abuse and exploitation. 

So the fact that some adolescent girls are raped or coerced into intercourse seems to be accepted as an inevitability. This in and of itself is sad. But instead of taking preventative measures to keep these young girls safe. There are steps being taken to turn a profit in the form of marketing new birth control. 

What no one seems to realize is that this also sends a negative message to young men. It is perfectly acceptable for them to satisfy their sexual urges at the expense of young girls who may or may not be willing. Because in the end, she has a magic pill that will "fix it". This relieves young men of all accountability, and responsibility.

With the FDA decision to provide access to these young women, and the Obama administration withdrawing its appeal. One outside barrier between a child and victimization has disappeared. 

How likely is it that a young girl would be able to secretly make an appointment with her family doctor in order to obtain more reliable forms of birth control? If Plan B is the only accessible form, how many young girls will start to use the hormone as their primary source of birth control? Does the FDA know how regularly taking large doses of Plan B (it’s called “emergency” contraception for a reason) in girls as young as 11 years of age will affect their biological development as they reach puberty? While the Obama administration was still against the ruling to allow unrestricted access to the drug, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "After careful consideration of the F.D.A. summary review, I have concluded that the data submitted by Teva [an Israeli pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug] do not conclusively establish that Plan B One-Step should be made available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age. In spite of this, The FDA, advocates, proponents, and even the President have decided make this drug available to young girls. Some of whom, are not even old enough to drive, or vote.


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