President Barack Obama and his administration’s decision to weigh into the debate about acceptable restrictions on young women’s access to emergency contraception is heartening news for conservatives concerned that easier access to the drug will contribute to teens making poor sexual choices.
After a U.S. District court ruled last month that the morning after pill, most familiarly known as Plan B, must be available to females of all ages without a prescription or parental consent, the Department of Justice announced this week that it would appeal the District Court’s decision. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it would begin allowing girls ages 15 and up to begin purchasing the drug over-the-counter.
Previously, only teenagers 17 and older were allowed to buy the drug without parental notification. The FDA’s decision to lower the age barrier to 15 is being marked as a compromise between groups claiming to support reproductive rights and conservatives concerned about the government taking away their right to make health decisions for their children.
President Obama said he was “very comfortable” with the FDA’s new rule, upsetting his progressive allies.
“Age barriers to emergency contraception are not supported by science, and they should be eliminated,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Thursday.
It’s fantastic to see progressives rail against regulations they believe are unnecessary, but the FDA’s decision to bar children from purchasing such a powerful drug without their parents’ knowledge is the wrong time for liberals to become the anti-regulation movement.
In explaining the FDA’s decision to continue regulating the age at which girls can purchase emergency contraception, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that, “It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age.” Sebelius went on to say she does “not believe enough data” was presented to justify eliminating the age requirement altogether.
Also at hand is the uncomfortable issue of rape. Repealing the age restriction to buy the morning after pill will encourage young women who are too embarrassed or afraid to talk about sexual abuse to bypass the authorities. Terrible men who deserve to go to prison could never face charges, allowing them the opportunity to continue feeding their sexual addiction.
Despite the way many pro-choice advocates are attempting to frame the issue, this is not a women’s health or a women’s rights issue. Neither the President and Secretary Sebelius, nor the FDA and myself are arguing that Plan B shouldn’t be available over-the-counter to adult women (though I do disagree with the aforementioned that 15-year-old girls should be considered ‘adults.’) This debate is about whether children should be able to obtain the morning after pill without parental consent, and the answer is a resounding, ‘No.’
Americans barely trusts 18-year-olds to borrow money from the bank, vote and complete a whole host of other ‘adult’ tasks, and an ID is required to purchase common decongestants, cigarettes and alcohol. Girls under the age of 17 should not be able to purchase emergency contraception.