Obama takes this position in spite of the fact that the Food and Drug Administration pronounced Plan B safe for females of all ages. Needless to say, few girls under 15 will have the resources to go to a doctor on their own. Those who are afraid to tell their parents about their sexual encounter risk becoming pregnant and facing the more complicated consequences to follow--whether abortion, or carrying a child to term. Obama may truly be concerned with the health risks of Plan B (rather than say pandering to extremists) but both abortion and carrying a child to term create greater health risks for young girls than Plan B.
PLAN B'S TORTURED HISTORY
Plan B was kept off the market for many years by the right-to-life crowd, and is one of the reasons that the overall rate of unintended pregnancy in this country has not declined in two decades and remains unacceptably high, accounting for 50 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S., according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Finally in 2011, the FDA pronounced it safe for females of all ages without a prescription. With the presidential election approaching, the Obama administration overruled the FDA, barring over-the-counter sales to girls under 17, a decision we found ridiculous. Following a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights to overturn this decision, New York federal judge Edward Korman ruled that the the drug should be available to all females without a prescription.* President Obama has now lowered the bar to 15, but his administration is appealing the judge's order to make it available to females younger than that. It is axiomatic that girls younger than fifteen get pregnant, and because of fear of telling their parents, many do not--until a swelling belly speaks for itself.
|Malia and Sasha--pregnancy better then Plan B?|
According to the Institute of Medicine, women with unintended pregnancy are more likely to smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy, have depression, experience domestic violence, and are less likely to obtain prenatal care or breastfeed. Women who have frequent pregnancies are more likely to have children with low birth weight and be premature, increasing the chances of children’s health and developmental problem.
Plan B opponents see none of this. Instead, they and the social workers who encourage them to surrender their babies for a "better life" will laud the girls for "bravely giving a precious gift" to a deserving couple, almost assuredly a couple who have had trouble conceiving themselves. It's a vicious circle that starts with opposing Plan B and urges Plan C: adoption.
COULD OVER-THE-COUNTER BIRTH CONTROL PILLS BE NEXT?
Determining that the scientific evidence suggesting that the practice was safe, the medical group for the first time the group endorsed over-the-counter sale of Plan B, calling it "a potential way to improve access and use, and possibly decrease the unintended pregnancy rate." We applaud them for their stand on this issue.
As first mothers who remember well the days when birth control pills were expensive and required a visit from a sometimes sanctimonious doctor, we heartily endorse the sale of birth-control pills, Plan B or Plan A (to prevent the pregnancy) to anyone who needs them. Over-the-counter pills would almost certainly reduce unintended pregnancies. The cost of such protection would also be reduced from up to a hundred dollars a month, by allowing women to buy generics, which can be as low as ten dollars a month. Birth control pills may not be covered by some insurance plans, particularly those affiliated with hospitals and other institutions the Catholic church owns and operates. However, the Affordable Care Act should reduce the cost. Allowing over-the-counter sale of Plan A might also get President Obama out of another sticky situation--the mandate in the ACA that religious-affiliated institutions provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. If birth control pills do not require a prescription, the employer's insurance may have no obligation to pay for them, just as they do not cover aspirin.
However, the greater availability of Plans A and B are only part of the answer to unplanned pregnancy. Greater empowerment of women through education and career opportunities are a necessary part of the equation.--jane
*Tummino v. Hamburg
Over-the-counter sales of Plan B morning-after pill approved for ages 15 and older
Obama administration plans to appeal Plan B ruling
Center for Reproductive Rights
Is It Time for Off-the-Shelf Birth-Control Pills?
HOW AGENCIES URGE ADOPTION
Former Bethany "recruiter" speaks up
How a birth mother's No to adoption turned into a Yes
No Matter How Adoption is Done, Grief Remains for Mothers
Without a Map: A Memoir Although this story is partially set in 1965, when the author, Meredith Hall, becomes pregnant, the pain of relinquishment and the feelings she has towards her son are relevant today. This is a wonderful book for all readers, young adult and up. Highly recommended.