Thursday, August 24, 2006


Finally! After three years of dragging their feet, the FDA has approved over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception. Plan B will be available to those over the age of 18 at pharmacies without a prescription.

Those under 18 will still need a prescription, even though (as Planned Parenthood's press release points out) there is no scientific basis for the cutoff. Doctors decided on the 18+ cutoff because there are already other products which are available to those 18 and up and require proof of age -- specifically, tobacco products. The FDA says that the non-minor cutoff age will make it easier for pharmacies to keep track. I say, comparing a product that could keep a girl from getting pregnant to one that could cause her to die of lung cancer is bullshit.

Don't get me wrong. It would be great if every 16 year old girl who'd had unprotected sex or a condom accident -- and the boy she'd been with -- could sit down with a respectful, caring doctor for a nice conversation about why and how to be more careful next time. But that's not the reality, and many young women would rather take their chances with pregnancy than figure out how to get to and pay for a clinic appointment or (the horror!) tell their parents. As Cecile Richards put it:
The U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the western world — anything that makes it harder for teenagers to avoid unintended pregnancy is bad medicine and bad public policy.
I would buy my sisters or any of their friends Plan-B in an instant if they needed it. Hopefully lots of young women will have supportive older women they can turn to when they need it.

NYTimes goes into detail on the abortion-politics that held the decision back for so long here.

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