Of Course Girls Should Have Access to Plan B — Why Are We Still Talking About This?


Let me give you a quick run-down of this whole Plan B deal before I go into my diatribe. In case you didn’t know:

  • In 2011, the FDA was ready to allow all girls to purchase Plan B, but Kathleen Sibelius decided to overrule science and good logic and set the age limit to 17.
  • On April 5, a New York judge slammed the decision and ordered that the FDA make the morning after pill available to all ages.
  • Last week, the FDA approved sales of the Plan B One-Step generic without a prescription to women and girls at least 15 years old with a government-issued identification (they said that their decision was independent of the ruling).
  • The Obama administration pitched a hissy fit and filed an appeal. They also asked the judge to stay his order (meaning to pause it going into effect).
  • Aforementioned judge told the Obama administration to fuck off regarding the request for a stay.

Honestly, I’m really just wondering why we’re still having this conversation. The morning after pill is incredibly safe to use. It does not, in fact, abort fetuses (in fact, it will not work if the woman is already pregnant). So what other concerns could there possibly be?

Kathleen Sibelius thinks that eleven and twelve year olds can’t read. She says:

However, the switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately. I do not believe that Teva’s application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.

Um, okay, I guess? I suppose that could be true. Sometimes hormone-based medicines can be complicated. Let’s see what this looks like:

One tablet taken orally as soon as possible within 72 hours after unprotected
intercourse. Efficacy is better if the tablet is taken as soon as possible after
unprotected intercourse. (2)

So, you take a pill. Insert pill into mouth. Swallow. Pill prevents pregnancy. Though I certainly understand the ability for eleven and twelve year olds to screw things up, I’m pretty sure that other kinds of medications (asprin, for example) work more or less the same way and children can still buy and have access to them. The side effects and potential dangers are minimal. There really is very little reason to keep children from accessing the pill.

I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised about this, seeing as how the Obama administration seems to have a bit of a fetish for controlling what goes into other people’s bodies. The logic behind this—the paternalistic, restrictive, controlling logic—is very similar to the one that is implemented in the War on Drugs. And you know what? Just like in the War on Drugs, it’s the people at the lower rungs of society that suffer the most. In his ruling, Judge Edward Korman pretty much says the same thing:

“You’re basically disadvantaging poor people, young people, and African Americans. That’s what you’re doing. That’s the policy of the Obama Administration?”

I certainly can understand the impetus to make sure that children, with their supposedly diminished capacity for reasoning, reading, and safety, are secure. However, the rationale for denying Plan B to minors is paper thin. It can really only be explained by an age-old phenomena: political pandering and presidential paternalism. Politicians should get out of the way and allow Plan B to be bought over the counter for all ages.