' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: If you can get pregnant, you should be able to get Plan B

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If you can get pregnant, you should be able to get Plan B

Girls under 15 can surrender their newborn for adoption without parental consent. If they wish to keep their pregnancy secret, they can give birth alone and leave their baby at a fire house. But they're incapable of deciding to take Plan B to prevent pregnancy, for that, asserts President Obama, they must have a doctor's prescription.

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 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?
The President's actions make no sense. He has no political risk in letting the judge's order stand. If he's squeamish about girls the ages of his daughters, Malia, 14 and Sasha, 11, ingesting Plan B, we'd think he's be much more uncomfortable if Michele had to schlep a first daughter to a doctor for a Plan B prescription--or deal with a pregnancy. Of course, living in the White House cocoon surrounded by security guards, it's highly unlikely that either girl would engage in sexual activity--or even have the opportunity. But girls under 15 living outside the White House are often victims of date rape or molestation by older men, often neighbors or relatives. Afraid to tell their parents, blaming themselves for letting "it" happen, young girls and teens may not tell anyone until it is too late for Plan B--or even an abortion--if indeed their parents would permit it. And we well know the consequences of carrying a child to term and giving it up for adoption.

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.

A few months before Judge Kormon's decision the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a position paper, concluding that the time had come for birth-control pills to be sold over the counter. One of the factors cites was a 2004 survey of more than 800 women aged 18–44 years found that nearly 70 percent of those at risk of unintended pregnancy would utilize pharmacy access for contraceptives, including and emergency contraception. Almost half of the low income women who were not using contraceptives themselves said they would start using those methods if they were available from pharmacies without a prescription. That percentage is certainly higher for young girls and teens. 

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?

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.


  1. I agree with this post 100%. My husband and I educated our daughters from a fairly young age about healthy sex, not being pushed into something they weren't ready for and birth control, birth control, birth control. We arranged with our family doctor for them to be able to go to her when they felt they needed to be on the pill if they didn't feel comfortable asking either of us to take them in. They both told us when the time was right.

    We also kept a jar filled with condoms in their bathroom and made it clear that we expect they would require their partner to protect them from STDs. The jar served the dual purpose of being available to their friends who might not have parents as open about such things as we are. We kept the jar filled without comment or judgement. Recently we hosted a party for all the kids now in their mid 20's so we could catch up on their lives. Many of them are just starting their families. The subject of the condom jar come up and several of them laughingly commented that the "jar" quite possibly saved them from an early family.

    Several of the classmates my daughters grew up with came from very religious families. Some of the girls would go on a "date" with their fathers who would present them with a "promise ring" and ask them to pledge not to have sex until marriage; I never heard of them asking their sons for the same pledge, but maybe they did... These were many of the same people I grew up with and I can guarantee you, they didn't follow any such pledge! Anyway, do these sound like teenagers who would be able to ask for birth control or plan B?

  2. Wow, Paige, that is progressive. It must have been nice to hear the good response to the condom jar in your bathroom.

    and you are right, I have never heard of a promise ring or promise-ring ceremony for boys, but who were the girls supposed to promise not having sex with if not the very same boys who were not promising?

  3. I've heard of promise rings but not the "date with their father" stuff. Sounds sick. One step from daughters being chattel where their father arranges their marriage aka sells them to some old rich guy.

  4. Oh, the "date with the father" I've seen on the tube and it has a dance with Dad as the "date." I think I have also read that girls with "promise my virginity to my husband" girls have sex at nearly the same age as everyone else.

    Hey, Lorraine, I see your mother's name and mine are nearly the same.

  5. I do not agree with plan B. First of all, coming from the religious side, no girl or woman for that matter should be having pre-maritial sex. As a birth mother, Yes, I did get pregnant and place my daughter for adoption. Abuse was rampant in my family. This child was mine and my boyfriends, but sexual abuse by my father, left me feeling unwanted and unloved. No girl should be having sex. Too many grown up decisions to make once you start, not including STD's and a host of other health issues. Sex in marriage is meant for a reason, but most of those that read this blog with bash me for my opinion. Oh, well. Sex inside marriage is the best. Too bad my father did not give me or my sister that choice.

  6. Jenny, I am not bashing your for your opinion, but your opinion should not dictate nationwide policy. It's fine that you believe people should wait to be married to have sex, but the vast majority of people in the US are not doing that and frankly it's not going to change. You of course should teach your children as you see fit but as a nation we need to educate our teenagers on respecting their bodies and the bodies of others and waiting until they're ready and yes, birth control. Randy teenagers are not going away and the double standard still holds and it's the girls who pay.

  7. Purity Balls:
    "One of the most memorable highlights of the ball is when the fathers stand in the middle of the ballroom and form a circle around their daughters standing all aglow in their lovely ball gowns. The fathers place their hands on their daughters, and together we pray for purity of mind, body, and soul for generations to come.
    "How can you measure the value of your eleven year old looking up into your eyes (as you clumsily learn the fox-trot together) with innocent, uncontainable joy, saying, 'Daddy, I'm so excited!' wrote one father in a letter describing his grateful participation. 'I have been involved with the Father-Daughter Ball for two years with my daughters. It is impossible to convey what I have seen in their sweet spirits, their delicate, forming souls, as their daddy takes them out for their first big dance. Their whole being absorbs my loving attention, resulting in a radiant sense of self-worth and identity. Think of it from their perspective: My daddy thinks I'm beautiful in my own unique way. My daddy is treating me with respect and honor. My daddy has taken time to be silly, and even made a fool of himself, learning how to dance. My dad really loves me!" "

    And an excerpt from Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce:

  8. My husband came from a religious upbringing. At the age of 13, the boys went on a date with their mothers and were asked to make a promise not to have sex until marriage. My husband wore his "chastity ring" until he was married. My husband's sisters did the same thing with their father.

    When I first heard about this, it creeped me out a little. But, my husband said it was a very emotional night for the entire family and symbolized the entrance to adulthood. He has a very normal, loving, and functional family. He did have sex out of marriage and regretted it every time.

    My family came from the opposite side of the fence. Not religious (but spiritual). And when "came of age", I was given condoms, a visit to the doctor for BCPs, and a warning to "don't sleep with anyone who is crazy, high, or drunk". Ironically, I have far fewer sexual partners than my husband.

    When our (adopted) children come of age, both of them will get a lesson in how to use condoms, access to birth control, and a policy to "don't sleep anyone who is crazy, high, or drunk".

  9. h20_girl, I'm not bashing your opinion either, but your opinion should not dictate nationwide policy as well.

    What's complicated about Plan B is that it can prevent a fertilized egg (where sperm and egg have joined and conception has already occurred) from implanting in the uterus.

    Manufacturer's of Plan B state that it does not harm a "pregnancy;" but the manufacturer and the pharma industry consider a "pregnancy" a fertilized egg that has already implanted in the uterus.

    If someone has the belief that life begins at conception (and not life begins at implantation) then Plan B can be worrisome; Plan B is no longer birth control but an abortifacient.

  10. @Paige,
    That is a wonderful comment. I bet your realism about teenage sex prevented several adoptees from being born, and prevented the lasting pain an unintended pregnancy would cause to both the parents and the child. I would like to see people wait until they older to have sex too. But the truth is teenagers have always experimented with sex, and all the abstinence-only programs and promise rings in the world don't seem to change that.

    While in theory it might be wonderful if only married couples were having sex, in reality it has never worked that way and never will. Also, the age when people marry keeps going up. It is ridiculous to think that a couple getting married in their early thirties would wait that long before having sex.

  11. Katia, sorry to be blunt, but so what? Because some people believe "life begins at conception" and some people believe Plan B is an abortifacient then this drug should be completely unavailable? Is that what you're saying? If your beliefs are so strong, fine. Don't use Plan B and encourage your daughters/sisters/friends/church members not to do so either. But it should be available for everyone else. The religious convictions of one segment of the population should never determine the healthcare of the entire population. And yes, birth control is healthcare.

  12. Jennie E and Katia,

    No one will force you to take plan B if it does not fit with your belief system. I will never understand why some religious people feel the need to force their values on everyone else. You don't believe in sex outside of marriage? Don't have it. Don't like plan B? Not a problem...

    Trivia question....Consumers of which state consumes the most porn nationwide?

    The religiously repressed are sometimes the most sexually deviant in my experience. I think it's a result of being taught that sex is dirty and shameful.

  13. Whether or not Plan B is an an abortifacient or not is immaterial to me. I certainly wish it would have been available when I got pregnant.

    Are you aware that even St. Thomas Aquainis was not against abortion until the "quickening" (which people have interpreted as the first sign of movement felt by the mother), for he felt hat until then a soul was not infused into the body. But tell that to the Church these days.

  14. Gosh, I guess I was the rare young woman who waited until college to have sex?

    I've only had 2 sexual partners in my lifetime ( I'm 33), one being my husband.

    My family is not overly religious but I valued myself enough not to be used by those "randy teenage" boys. I paid attention is health class, had parents who found a way to communicate what is lost when you do have random sex and stayed involved with sports, cheerleading, school and the school newspaper.

    Plenty of dates & relationships, but I kept the lust in check. Don't write off all teens; it can be done and without creepy daddy/mommy dates.

    Guess what? Others can too. Talk to your kids, make them listen, provide birth control as needed but please let's not all assume that every teenager is a pregnancy waiting to happen.

    And girls under 15 having access to a drug like this, while certain cough medicines stay behind the counter?? Absurd.

    Parental guidance & support is needed here; not easy access to Plan B, which does also btw does NOTHING to prevent STD's or address the why a girl aged 11 or 12 (NOT teens btw) would even be having sex.

    The younger the recipient of Plan B, the greater need to emotional support; none of which will happen if they have secret access to a drug they don't readily understand because of a situation they should not have been in from the outset.


  15. "Trivia question....Consumers of which state consumes the most porn nationwide?"

    Utah, I believe is the answer.

  16. "Does Plan B Cause Abortion?"

    "As a point of informed consent, it's only honest to say it's possible that this may have post-fertilization effects," she said. "If that matters to you, this is not the contraceptive of choice"
    Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  17. Requiring a doctor's permission for Plan B does not in any way assure that a young girl will get the emotional support she needs. It just adds delay and costs increasing anxiety.

  18. Utah is my answer too.

    According to a documentary aired on PBS a few years ago, the Marriott Hotel chain came up with the idea of running porn channels in hotel rooms for an added fee. The first site was Salt Lake City. Local men often use the service, checking into the hotel for a few hours to watch their favorite porn show.

    The founder of the Marriott Hotel chain was Willard Marriott, a Mormon after whom Mitt Romney was named. In addition to porn, Marriott Hotels offer a Book of Mormon in their rooms for no extra charge.

  19. Romney has had a close, long-standing, personal and business connection with Marriott International and its founders. He served as a member of the Marriott board of directors for many years. From 1993 to 1998, Romney was the head of the audit committee of the Marriott board.

    During that period, Marriott engaged in a series of complex and high-profile maneuvers, including "Son of Boss," a notoriously abusive prepackaged tax shelter that investment banks and accounting firms marketed to corporations such as Marriott. In this respect, Marriott was in the vanguard of a then-emerging corporate tax shelter bubble that substantially undermined the entire corporate tax system.

    So it goes. Porn money all around.

  20. If the executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers Plan B to be a contraceptive rather than an abortificient, that's good enough for me. I don't know what all the fuss is about.

    @ "I kept the lust in check" Julie (bully for you), parental guidance and emotional support is NOT a given for young girls who become pregnant, whether through their own lustful behavior or that of someone else.
    My goodness, this post has really brought out the prigs.


    by Sarah Firisen

    Today we are all equal, right?
    No more damsels and their brave knight
    I can fight, I can vote
    Choose on whom I will dote
    And any wage difference is slight

    But is this the end of the tale
    Of the fight for the rights of the female?
    Is there further to go?
    Is a lot just for show?
    Is progress the hare or the snail?

    A woman's a tramp or a whore
    If she finds sex more than a chore
    But a man, he's stud
    No name dragged through the mud
    No loose morals for all to deplore

    When men cheat, it's news for a while
    Yes, called pathetic and vile
    But the news' cycle roll
    Is a balm for the soul
    And soon the man's back to beguile

    For Clinton, Petraeus and Weiner
    Such blips are a mere misdemeanor
    They retreat for a while
    Their wives bravely smile
    And to make a fresh start, no one's keener

    But if a woman commits such an act
    It's a tear in the social contract
    No doubt she's a slut
    Just look at her strut
    And what from this view can detract?

    So when will we all be the same
    Transgressions no worse for a dame?
    When will our sexual sins
    Be societal twins?
    And not unequal parading of shame

  21. Elizabeth Smart is back in the news, she is now saying Abstinence Only Education made her kidnapping ordeal worse, and made it harder for her to escape the kidnappers.




    Keep speaking out Elizabeth!

  22. Good sense from Dr. Jen Gunter:
    6 reasons why Plan B should be available without an ID


  23. Good for Judge Korman for standing tough:


  24. Foll, I couldnt get the link, what did it saY?

  25. Judge Korman denied the Justice Department's’s request to delay a court order to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter to women of all ages, calling the defendant's appeal "frivolous and taken for the purpose of delay".

    You can read the full statement by clicking on a link provided at the bottom of an article in Salon, "Judge slams Obama's Plan B obstructionism, again":
    Copy and paste. If the link doesn't work for you, just google.



COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We cannot edit or change the comment in any way. Entire comment published is in full as written. If you wish to change a comment afterward, you must rewrite the entire comment.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.