Thursday, May 02, 2013

Morning after pill approved for greater age range

I was pretty happy yesterday when I heard that the Morning After Pill (a.k.a. Plan B) was going to be made legal without a prescription for girls 15 and older. That's great news! Doing a bit of digging showed that the story is more complicated.

In 2005 by the Center for Reproductive Rights (and others) filed a lawsuit to strike down age and access limits to the emergency contraception.

In December 2011, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius barred girls under the age of 17 from getting the Morning After Pill without a prescription.

On April 5 of this year a U.S. District Judge ruled on the 2005 case and ordered that the FDA make emergency contraception available with no age limit within 30 days. In his decision he said that Sebelius' decision was clearly politically based.

The FDA has expanded access to Plan B without a prescription to girls 15 and over and has appealed the decision to permit access for girls of all ages.

Some are arguing that kids need a note from their parents to take aspirin in school, but can get emergency contraception anywhere. What they fail to point out is that kids need a note to take ANYTHING at school. Aspirin, sure, but also insulin, allergy meds, Ritalin, etc. Outside of school aspirin is available to all ages. And aspirin tends to treat a temporary condition. Plan B prevents pregnancy, a condition which lasts 9 months, can lead to a long list of other health concerns, and may result in a child and all the burdens that come with it.

We all want the child's parents to be good people who care about it and want what's best for it. Debates are often framed around the idea of teenaged white girl from an upper middle class upbringing who is sleeping around behind the backs of her mother and father. They don't want to hear about the poor hispanic girl whose lone parent works so many hours of the day that parent and child barely know each other. That parent doesn't have the time or money to take the kid to the doctor to get that prescription. They don't talk about the girl from the super religious black family who the girl dares not mention her dreams of college and a job to. They'll demand that she keep the child and drop out of school to raise it. Nor do they mention that the previously mentioned white girl's own father could be the one who got her pregnant. Not to mention the parents who pimp out their daughters. The ones who would beat her for getting pregnant. The ones whose religions forbid seeing doctors or taking medicine.

Kids have a ton of reasons why they might not want to tell their parents they're pregnant. Kathleen Sebelius and the FDA may think they're protecting these girls, but they're also harming girls who are struggling against the cycle of poverty and/or abuse in which they're stuck.

1 comment:

William Stachour said...

I also applaud the development. I can't imagine the American Taliban will let this go without a huge fight, since the control and subjugation of women and girls seem Job One to these folks.

Still, a positive step in itself.