The dangers of disregarding science: Plan B

(Note: The morning-after-pill (aka, “MAP”, aka “Plan B”) is not the so-called “abortion pill,” though the media—including NPR—has been confusing these two very different medications. The morning-after-pill IS emergency contraception.)

How is Obama like his predecessor, Bush?

Sure, there are several ways. We (progressives) don’t like to admit this; it hurts our progressive hearts.

But if we don’t address such issues, we can’t make progress.

Since 2006 or 2007, I’ve been active in a movement to make the morning-after-pill more readily available. A lawsuit has been ongoing for years, and the plaintiffs—? Well, I’m proud to call them my friends.

District Court Judge E. Korman noted the sorry similarity between the Bush administration and the Obama administration when he said,

It turns out that the same policies that President Bush followed were followed by President Obama.” Morning After Pill

[You can read the decision here.]

A few weeks ago, the morning after pill was available over the counter, but behind the counter. And only with ID proving you were over 17.

Confusing, right? And it really makes no sense.

If a condom broke during sex and you wanted to prevent pregnancy, you had to shuffle to the pharmacy, go to the counter, and request the medicine.

And, of course, hope that your pharmacist wasn’t making faces at you, judging you as a slut, and wouldn’t pull the “consciousness clause”, claiming it violated their religious beliefs because it causes an abortion (which, as noted above, it doesn’t.)

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine support making Plan B available over-the-counter without restrictions.

Got that? Without. Restrictions.

In December 2011, Obama and his administration disappointed many by ignoring the science and scientific opinions when the administration decided to limit access to emergency contraception. By limiting access to emergency contraception, the Obama administration went against the recommendations of medical professionals and researchers who had dedicated years studying this exact issue. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg remarked:

The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the data supported a finding that adolescent females could use Plan B One-Step properly without the intervention of a healthcare provider.

In March of this year, Judge Korman agreed with the science. He ruled that the morning-after-pill should be available over-the-counter, and without any restrictions.

The Obama Administration responded by agreeing emergency contraception can be over the counter (next to condoms, etc.), but there will be an age limit of 15, ID requirements to prove you’re old enough, etc.

What? Why? This is a holdover. Our government doesn’t trust women to make decisions about their own health.

In 2012, Obama came out and said he supported the limitation (ignoring the scientific studies) because . . .  he’d want his daughter’s to come to him should they need this.

At this point, I start rambling with how damn condescending and paternalistic that remark and worldview is. As a parent, yes, I understand that sentiment–sort of. I would love for my kids to feel comfortable enough to come to me, to confide in me.

But as a parent, and as someone who survived being a teenager, I realize that even with the most supportive, loving, accepting parents in the world; there’s a fear of telling parents, and also the feeling of “But it’s not really their business.” I also realize not every parent is supportive, and that–it’s not my decision. It’s my daughter’s. It’s her body. Taking the morning-after-pill is responsible on her part, and my knowledge of her doing so is irrelevant.

The sentiment of “It’s not really their business” may seem oh-so-adolescent, but it’s right.

This personal matter is political. The Obama administration has stated it will appeal Judge Korman’s wise decision, thus dragging out an already long court battle.

We aren’t giving in or giving up. President Obama and his administration are sending dangerous messages with this appeal: they don’t trust women, and they don’t respect science.

This is very simple science, and it’s science that helps numerous women from all walks of life.

“You’re disadvantaging young people, African-Americans, the poor… that’s the policy of the Obama administration?” –Judge Korman

But this simple, basic science and medicine has been so wrapped up in politics because it deals with women’s basic bodily autonomy, and that is sadly still a political issue.

Because of this terrible mix, women continue to pay the price.

4 thoughts on “The dangers of disregarding science: Plan B

  1. I originally supported the Obama Administration’s decision to err on the side of caution. Probably because I was in Texas when they were trying to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for school attendance, and (1) I didn’t feel it had been sufficiently tested across diverse populations and (2) I felt there was no rush to inoculate a child at 12 when the window for efficacy went to 24-ish(?)

    However, when the AAP declared it safe (more important to me the OB/GYN, actually), I could no longer justify my support of the Administration on this. Further, there is the very compelling argument that many 15 years olds may not possess the government ID required to purchase Plan B. To use the argument that Voter ID laws are too restrictive and turn around and use basically the same approach to limit access to Plan B is – to me – not something I can justify.

    Thank you for a very thoughtful discussion on this matter.

  2. I have so many angry things I want to say!

    As Seyyal said, it’s ridiculous to require proof of age for 15 year olds because, um, most of them don’t have government ID.

    And it’s great that Obama feels close enough with his daughters to want them to go to him if, oops, but what about all the other young women who aren’t in such loving families??? And do his daughters feel the same way? This has been a complaint of mine about conservatives for a long time–that they lack imagination. They are unable to imagine a family that isn’t loving and accepting and non-judgmental and non abusive. So they make laws and policy based on their perceived ideal. The households where there is abuse or that isn’t loving may be a minority, but I’m not willing to sacrifice them because Obama feels close with his daughters. (I kind of wonder what they have to say about that…)

    Do you know if there is a petition on to ask the administration to not waste money by appealing the decision? What can we do?

  3. Pingback: Running Errands: Looking for Plan B | Everblog

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