The Obama administration’s fight over keeping some age restrictions on the availability Plan B emergency contraception, also known as the “morning after pill,” is over. After much political posturing, this harmless, yet vitally important, medication will be available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription.
In 2011, Teva Pharmaceutical Industry filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration to allow Plan B to be accessible over the counter without age limits. The FDA ultimately rejected that application, saying the pharmaceutical company failed to prove that adolescents would use the drug correctly. In a move that surprised some of the president’s supporters, the Obama administration supported the FDA’s decision.
The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the FDA to reverse the decision and United States District Judge Edward Korman ruled that Plan B should be accessible over the counter without age limits. The Obama administration then appealed the case and lost last month. Not surprisingly, the political sphere exploded almost immediately after it was announced that the Department of Justice would not seek a second appeal against Judge Korman’s ruling.
Everyone had a lot to say, especially right wing organizations. The Washington Post quoted Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America:
“The administration ‘has abandoned common sense. I sincerely fear for the future health and wellness of women and children, as doctors, parents, and pharmacists are eliminated from this very serious conversation about sexual activity, pregnancy, fertility, and overall health.”
Notwithstanding the FDA’s original 2011 ruling, the agency found that not only is Plan B safe (it contains the same amount of hormones as a month of birth control pills) but that adolescents were completely capable of understanding how to use the medication without input from a doctor or a pharmacist. There’s some common sense for ya! So why all the uproar?
The truth is, opponents of this common sense ruling are not concerned about the “overall health” of anyone. The opponents of this ruling are concerned about young women having sex.
Which brings me to the most intelligent statement that has been uttered about this subject thus far. It wasn’t made by the president of an organization, or a politician, or a even legal adult for that matter.
“People will have sex regardless,” said Isabella Albamonte, a 17-year-old junior at [Washington, D.C.’s] Woodrow Wilson High School, adding that Plan B is ‘just a backup plan if you make a mistake.’”
People will have sex regardless. The increased availability of Plan B won’t make it easier for young women to have sex. Condoms are already sold without age restrictions or prescriptions. What Plan B will do is give young women the power to prevent unwanted pregnancies should other forms of birth control fail, not to mention the fact that it will give young men and women the opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy if they make the mistake of not using protection at all (because let’s be clear, not using protection is a mistake that both parties are responsible for). And rape victims who were forced to have unprotected sex will have the opportunity to prevent getting pregnant with their rapist’s baby.
Once you get past the anti-woman political machine, the truth is crystal clear. There is a reason that access to birth control and emergency contraception is still a topic of discussion, but condoms are readily available to men of all ages. It’s because most forms of birth control and emergency contraception are specifically for women and girls, and people like Penny Young Nance (and apparently President Obama who does not support the FDA ruling!) are horrified at the thought of women and girls having sex.
Well, it’s time to face the music. Whether it gives you the heebie-jeebies or not, women and girls are having sex (just like men and boys!). So let’s give them the tools they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.