The Plan B Pill: If It Were MY Daughter…

Plan B pill…I’d want Plan B to be available over the counter.

I say this realizing there are great moral complexities involved here.  I’ve thought about it a lot regarding under-age girls seeking abortion.  When it comes to abortion, I ask myself, “Would I want to be notified if it were my daughter?  Would I want the doctor to insist on my consent if it were my daughter?  My husband’s consent?  If my daughter was 15?  What about if my daughter was 13? 12?”  Of course the answer to all of these questions is “Yes.”  While most parents I know would also answer “yes” to these questions, I realize there are girls who aren’t living in healthy families.

I also, however, have done everything I know how – used everything in my parental arsenal – to make it clear to my daughter (and sons) that when they are in trouble of ANY nature, we are their allies.  Not their crutches.  Not their protectors.  Not their enablers.  Not their shields from consequences.  Their allies.  We know more, we’ve lived longer, we have better access to resources, etc., etc., etc.  “We will ALWAYS be prouder of you for calling/telling us you’re (insert a stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situation here) and you need help than we will be mad at you for having found/gotten yourself into (insert stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situation here) to begin with.”

So far, this has served us fairly well.  We’re not delusional – we assume there are still plenty of stupid/dangerous/against-the-rules situations they have not told us about, and will be in the future.  There have been times, however, when we’ve gotten calls from them.  And as strange as it sounds to say, I hope we continue to get those calls.  I’d rather get calls from them than from the police or the hospital.  This is what we have hammered home, and hopefully has set the tone for the basis of trust and confidence they have in us.

I hope this would extend, for my kids, to sex and unwanted pregnancies.  In an ideal world, they’d come to us first.  In a slightly less ideal world, they’d go to a doctor first.  In an even less ideal world, they’d have their friend drive them to a drugstore to buy Plan B, also known as the “morning after” pill.  But in a world I’d consider unacceptable, they would have no access to Plan B.  And then, once a pregnancy results, they’d have no access to Planned Parenthood.   Safe abortion would be hard to come by, and god forbid, they’d seek a back alley.

Just because I think I’ve done a good enough job making my own kids comfortable coming to us with their problems and mistakes, doesn’t mean they would.  Just because I wish all kids felt comfortable going to their parents doesn’t mean they do.

What of the kids whose parents aren’t there for them?  What of the girls who’ve been raped and whose parents would throw them out of the house for being a slut in their eyes?  What of the girls whose fathers are womanizers themselves, but would beat their daughters if they got pregnant?  What of the daughter of a prominent family that cares more about outward appearances than helping their kid?  Just because my daughter is not in one of those families doesn’t negate the fact that other daughters are.

Plan B (and even more medically significant, abortion) is something of which I hope my daughter wouldn’t avail herself without my knowledge. If, however, my daughter is in a situation where she is too afraid/embarrassed/shocked/traumatized to come to us first, all the MORE reason I would want safe emergency contraceptive (and safe prenatal care or abortion) available to her.  And if I want it for her, how can I not want it for those daughters who are less fortunate than she?

Aliza Worthington grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now lives in Baltimore. She began writing in 2009 at the age of 40. Sometimes her writing follows The Seinfeld Model of “no learning, no hugging.” Other times it involves lots of both. She blogs about Life, Liberty and Happiness at “The Worthington Post.” Her work also appears in Catonsville Patch, Kveller, and has been featured in the Community Spotlight section of Daily Kos under the username “Horque.” Her writing has also landed in the “Winner’s Circle” on Midlife Collage twice. Follow her on Twitter at @AlizaWrites.

Image via The Moderate Voice

  • Lindsay

    Great post, thanks for sharing. Tough stuff indeed to think and talk about. Opponents of plan B often fail to think of the even more horrible, yet very real cases of incest and rape, where shame takes an even deeper toll for young girls. Preventing young girls from being in this position in the first place is necessary, but until we have the confidence and statistics to show otherwise, plan B is needed.

    • Aliza Worthington

      The ones who do think of the more horrible cases but still oppose it seem to think nothing of the consequences of allowing a pregnancy to develop for the girl or woman herself. Thank you so much for commenting!

  • Amy McVay Abbott

    Aliza, your writing is very accessible. I feel like I’m talking to you over a cup of coffee. What I particularly like about this essay is that you are able to see how other families may be different from yours, which many pundits fail to do. Congratulations on a very good piece. I do not envy those young mothers of daughters, but you outlined this very well.

  • You hit the nail on the head. I don’t have a daughter, but I have a son. And though I don’t want to think he’d make an irresponsible decision that would end up with his girlfriend pregnant when he’s old enough for such things, I’m well aware of hormones and peer pressure and whatnot. I’d like to think he would be able to support a girl through a tough decision, maybe even run to the pharmacy for her if she couldn’t get out without her parents. I’d even drive him there. Heck, maybe even if it was just a female friend who had been with a different guy. I can see him being that good of a friend.

    Kids need options, because not all kids come from safe families like ours. I’ve worked with kids from unsafe families in the psychiatric hospital – boys and girls who had been sexually abused before the age of 12. They certainly could never get a parent’s permission for Plan B without horrible repercussions.

  • My children are grown now, and one of them got pregnant at age 19…the same I did. I was of course not at all happy, but I supported her and she gave birth to my oldest grandchild. She married the father, and they have given us two more beautiful kids to spoil rotten.

    But there was no Plan B option then, and in my state, the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic was almost 2 hours away. As far as I know it is the only one in the state, if it still is open. If ending the pregnancy had been her choice, I’d have made the drive, as the well being of my child would have been paramount. I didn’t insist on her taking The Pill, but did inform her of the consequences of unprotected sex.

    When I was her age, I didn’t have support at all. Thankfully it all ended well, and my son’s upcoming birthday has me feeling my age.

    You are right, Aliza, so many women and girls have few options, have little support, and exist in much less than ideal situations. It is for their sakes that I am glad that more freedom to choose what happens to our bodies is available.

  • There are few things worse than an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted child. Plan B is otten the best option available before a less than ideal situation turns into a real horror show…I’m with you 100% on this one. I’d never want my daughter to need it, but women need more options out there–not less!

  • Elissa

    Great post, Aliza – it likely underscores what alot of women are thinking and/or wondering if their daughter is ever in such a situation. The more education and options we can provide our children, the better.

  • Another fabulous post, so insightful. For me, it all comes down to choice and I want my daughter to have it, too.

  • Aliza,
    Wonderful post and very thoughtful argument for over the counter Plan B. I agree completely, we need these options for our daughters. But I also want to have the kind of open relationship where I would be a part of the solution.
    Thanks,
    Estelle

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