What do you think of the administration’s decision to limit the availability of Plan B pills among teen-agers?

The Obama administration has rejected an FDA plan to make emergency contraceptives available over the counter to anyone, including young teens. That means girls age 16 and younger will continue to need a prescription to buy the pill known as Plan B. Today’s Question: What do you think of the administration’s decision to limit the availability of Plan B pills among teen-agers?

  • Clark

    I am not familiar with the health risks of plan B pills, but I believe the alternative of babies born to uneducated poor teenagers is not a good alternative. Just more freeloading wagon riding democrats who will blame the “rich” for their lifetime of poverty.

  • Emery

    Suppose I believe cutting down trees is in and of itself immoral. Do I have a right to get OSHA to bar sales of saws to minors? You can believe whatever you want about fertilization, and nobody can force you to use Plan B if you don’t want to. The question starts when you decide you want to impose that view on your kids. Again, you have every right to try to impose your views on your kids; they’re your kids. What you don’t have a right to do is to come to the federal government and demand that they bar the sale of certain products to minors, which other minors and their parents want to be sold without restrictions, in order to help you out in imposing your particular views on your kids.

  • Doug

    I think the fact that you look to the government to parent your children shows you’re too irresponsible to have children. I hope Plan C will not have so much trouble coming to market.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It looks likey threw a sop to the social conservatives.

  • Doug

    The most reasonable argument opponents make is that conservative or religious parents simply are not comfortable with having emergency contraception available to their children without a doctor’s intervention, and that whether or not this objection is rational, they have a right to control their own family’s approach to sexuality and to exercise a custodial position over their underage kids. Plan B poses no health risks and will be used correctly by girls under 17, but that’s only partially relevant to this objection; this is an argument about parental control, even for parents whose beliefs are founded on scientific or behavioral misunderstandings. These parents want the federal government to help them shape their children’s reproductive behavior by preventing them from accessing emergency contraception without a prescription.

  • Chris Oinonen Ehren

    This is the worst group to put road blocks in front of. They’re less mature, and less physically ready for pregnancy. They’re less likely to have the skills to make an appointment/find some place that will help them get a prescription. If your kid has had sex, it is too late to talk about parental consent/parental control, that ship has sailed. We need to start talking about that narrow little window of opportunity where the kid may have realized they made a mistake and might have a chance to protect themselves from one consequence of that mistake. What tools can we put in kids’ hands to allow them to take a step back from the brink? For foresight, there’s condoms, for reckless, immature, stupid moves, maybe the morning after pill can save some futures.

  • Rich


    This argument is wrong because it demands that the federal government intercede in favor of the nebulous and poorly grounded interests of one faction of conservative or religious parents, and against two other groups whose interests should weigh more heavily. The first group is those parents who actively desire that their children be able to purchase emergency contraception without a prescription, in the well-grounded belief that their children may, despite their parents’ best intentions and efforts, have unprotected sex—after which they may hesitate to admit this to their parents, wait too long to schedule an appointment with a physician, miss the 72-hour window of effectiveness, and wind up having an abortion. The second group is the one who has the strongest standing of all: the minors themselves who would want to purchase emergency contraception. The interests of the conservative parents are nebulous because there’s no evidence that teenagers will be more likely to have (unprotected) sex if Plan B is available to them. In contrast, there’s abundant evidence that teenagers do have unprotected sex, and that they would be well served if Plan B were available over the counter, as would those of their parents who would prefer that they prevent pregnancy, rather than undergo an abortion or have a baby.

  • reggie

    I disagree with the diatribe in Clark’s post at 5:47, but have an amended version:

    I am not familiar with the health risks of plan B pills, but I believe the alternative of babies born to … teenagers is not a good alternative.

  • Rich

    There is, of course, one last subset of parents who do have a concrete, non-nebulous interest here: those who would prefer that, if their underage daughters have unprotected sex and risk becoming pregnant, they conceive and deliver the child, even if the girls themselves would rather have used Plan B. This is an incredibly thorny familial conflict; it is not at all clear that parents have the right to force their underage daughters to bear children against their will. But that’s a values conflict for a different day. What I’m sure of is that such parents do not have a claim on federal government assistance to enforce their beliefs.

  • Amanda

    The overruling of the FDA in this case was nothing more than a political move by the Obama administration. The FDA could not find a single reason why Plan B contraception couldn’t be on a shelf where anyone could buy it. The rationale used by both Sebelius and Obama isn’t applied to any other over the counter medication. And to add to the consequences of this move, this ruling would have also moved Plan B out from behind the counter, making it more accessible for all women, not just teenagers. Both sides of the aisle talk about wanting to decrease the number of unintended pregnancies in this Nation–and then we see actions like this. Disappointing.

  • david

    Just when I was getting used to the idea that we live in a plutocracy, I read this and see we live in a theocracy too. Every day it seems my civics teachers lied and we don’t live in a democracy. Instead we live in a land where the loudest (most money) win, not the majority. I guess common sense needs an advocacy group and a superPAC.

  • Alison

    It’s another fine example of religious freedom in this country. Some religions have the freedom to make the rules from their God into laws for the rest of us to follow.

  • GregX

    We promote sexier more open children ( via beauty pageants, Disney Cable Shows, Teen magazines, beauty products, Internet chat sites)… ) all re-inforcing the stereo\types that foster cutlural pressures to BE sexier….. which generally leads to sex. Its Utter ignorance not to deal the girmy reality that results when ever younger children participate in the cultural norm we’ve established.

  • Clark

    Reggie,every single study ever completed by either left wing or right wing groups have one common summary which are the negative pathologies that follow children born to poor, unwed mothers are significant and almost insurmountable. If you choose to stick your head in the sand, fine.

  • Ron

    Wrong-headed, politically motivated policies: 1

    Fact-based Science: 0

    Adolescents: -1

    Just another day in America.

  • Rich in Duluth

    It is appropriate to use age to limit the purchase of some things (cigarettes, alcohol, etc.) or activities (driving, flying, etc.). By overriding the FDA, the administration is making this a political decision, which is inappropriate.

    Plan B is a drug and the FDA should make the decision, as with any other drug, based on the science.

  • Mark G

    I feel that, when it comes to children younger than 16, the parents do need to be involved in helping deal with emergency contraception of this type. Note that this is for emergency use only, and pregnancy for young people, no matter the circumstance that caused it, IS an emergency situation. I realize that it may be difficult for children that young to be able to approach their parents with the facts of the situation, but the alternative is so much more serious and dangerous.

  • Kristina

    I believe that this move was motivated by politics, not science. The availability of emergency contraception does not increase sexual activity – it will however, decrease the number of unintended pregnancies. EC is safer than many other drugs available without a prescription, and limiting its availability is outrageous.

  • John P II

    I think the administration was disingenuous in citing safety concerns; pretty clear this was a political decision (aren’t they all though?) I think it makes more sense to make the age 16 and up though, to align with the age of consent in majority of US states. If a 16 year old girl can legally have sex with a 60 year old man, I think she should be allowed access to any and all forms of contraception in the easiest manner possible.

  • Katie

    The thing that’s the most disappointing is the clear gap in logic presented as legitimate reason for why plan b should be limited based on age. They say that girls of the age of 10,11,12 have questionable ability to understand and use the product correctly. Any 10 year old can walk into the drug store and buy Tylenol, which can be deadly if taken inappropriately. If a 10 year old can’t read and understand the packaging after a 5th grade education, will they be able to navigate our health system to see a doctor and obtain a prescription?

    One solution is to still make it available by pharmacist only, and provide a 10 minute consultation to any girls under 17. As a medical professional, I’m on board with patients being informed. But limiting access is not an adequate solution. The policital undertones of this are truly disappointing.

  • James

    Just another consequence of the the ridiculous amount of media attention focused on everything in Washington.

    Because the administration knew the decision would get a lot of attention, the only upside was to appeal to a segment of the voting population where it is weak.

  • Oliver Twist

    “Reggie,every single study ever completed by either left wing or right wing groups have one common summary which are the negative pathologies that follow children born to poor, unwed mothers are significant and almost insurmountable. If you choose to stick your head in the sand, fine.

    Posted by Clark | December 13, 2011 9:27 AM ”

    Clark, your disinformation is disturbing.

    The truth is that women-single and unwed women-once were able to raise a family on their own, without the assistance of government. The gap created (within the last ten years) between the haves everything and the once had something which is now have next to nothing has increased to the extent that we now live in the feudal system, the royalty verses the peasants. Then there are those who will stoop for the royalty (that would be you) who willingly wedge their noses up the royal bung for personal gains rendered by the queen.

    Young adults from low income families have more of a struggle to survive let alone given young adults with babies attempting to make something out of thier lives in this economy.

    It is no one’s desire to live on government assistance. Believe me.

    Having Plan B available to the public -given our economy and the state of the budget would make much sence.

  • Rachel

    Between this and the debate over provision of birth control for women employed by religious organizations, I am amazed by the sheer lack of respect for women. These are our bodies, and you, Bishops of the Catholic Church and anyone else, are not the ones who are going to be carrying a baby for 9 months.

    In addition, I would like to argue that we do not consume health care like we consume other goods. The idea that making birth control or Plan B available to more people will increase promiscuity among teens is ridiculous. Increased access will only serve to help women make better decisions regarding their reproductive health and give them control in a way that has been forbidden them for years.

    In conclusion:

    A 16 year old is not going to walk into a pharmacy and buy an expensive pill just because she can. Further, if schools focus on safe-sex practices in sex-education, instead of abstinence-only education we’d probably have to worry less about teens having unprotected sex and prompting the need for Plan B in the first place. Duh.

    Instead of obstructing women’s access to emergency contraception, we should pass the damn thing as suggested by the FDA, and instead focus on how to help girls and women make more informed (by science-based fact) decisions about their health.

  • Claire

    I am disappointed that the science is being disregarded in favor of limiting birth control options for teenage girls.

  • RachelB

    I think this new decision to limit access to under 17 is rational but it may be done to divert attention away from more pressing issues of the country or as a political campaign tactic. President has the GE CEO as appointee for jobs czar as GE is moving its Wisconsin facility to China, giving them $4 billion and losing American jobs. Does that decision seem right coming from our own jobs czar? I think the Plan B decision is probably another diversion that will be changed if Obama is re-elected_ slim chance now.

  • Jason

    Ditto what ‘Rich in Duluth’ posted.

    It struck me how this seems similar to the Bush administration’s decision to limit stem cell research. In lifting that ban Obama noted that we should “make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology”. While I applaud his decision to lift the ban, with this latest decision Obama sounds a bit like the previous administration. One should note that “facts” are not the same as truth, and that they can be cherry picked to fit one’s ideology (re: WMDs in Iraq).

    Looking deeper it does appear to have important political ramifications, just like Bush’s decision had as well.

    But in his speech as to why he is restricting the sale of the drug he cited it’s potential misuse by immature minds. If the drug is “safe” to sell without a prescription, my assumption is it can be viewed in a similar way as over-the-counter pain killers. There are dangers in the misuse of those drugs, and we rely on warning labels and parental oversight for their use. Why shouldn’t we look at the ‘Plan B’ pill similarly?

    (I think I know some of the reasons why, and it points to the sad reality of how unwanted pregnancies are not the same as unwanted headaches)

  • Larry M.

    I would have made the age 16 instead of 17, if a person is considered responsible enough to drive (which also makes the back seat much more accessible) then they should be considered responsible enough to decide and read the directions on the package.

  • reggie

    OK, Clark, I’ll happily agree that poverty and lack of education are a burden that should not be passed down from generation to generation. All the more reason to provide women unfettered access to all forms of birth control and encouragement to use it until they feel they are ready for the responsibilities of raising a child.

    The diatribe to which I object in your original post is your characterization of “uneducated poor teenagers” as “just more freeloading wagon riding democrats” etc. Really, you’d started with a good point. Why couldn’t you just stop without the rant? Your drinking buddies probably enjoy it, but it adds nothing to this conversation.

  • Hannah

    What concerns me about making this pill readily available to young people is the simultaneous decline in our awareness or concern about sexually transmitted diseases.

    People aren’t really scared of HIV/AIDS anymore, or at least the way they used to be. A clinician at Planned Parenthood advised me that as a white female, it was unlikely that I would contract the disease, with or without protection. In the same vein (so to speak), a doctor recently advised my boyfriend when he went in for STD screening that, even if he had herpes, it wouldn’t really matter as long as there were no symptoms. He and I can’t be the only people who has been on the receiving end of such information.

    If the public decreases its concern and awareness about transmitting STDs, then the only thing left to worry young people about engaging in unprotected sex is pregnancy. And with Plan B readily available to young people, unprotected sex is little more than a (relatively) expensive mistake.

    I’m not trying to say that making this pill available to young people will encourage them to have promiscuous sex, because the truth is, there will never be a need for encouragement. I’m saying what it may do is encourage them to make poor decisions when they do.

  • Joe

    This is obviously a politican response so he did not give the Republicans the line of him supporting 9 year olds being promiscuous duirng the next election. Its a good political move.

    Look for it to be reversed after November 2012 and the age lowered to 14.

  • suestuben

    I cannot believe all the men who have weighed in on this issue. Gentlemen, this is a women’s issue, so you should let the girls and women discuss it. Your role should be to supply the dollars to buy the pill if your sex partner/sig. other decides to use it.

    As usual, just as Obama, a man, has decided which women will have access to the pill, so all you men feel you must decide to argue how you feel about girls and women having access to birth control.

    For you, it’s all about retaining power over women. For women, it’s all about trying to exert some control over their own lives.

  • Cassie

    kimMN, where are you????

  • DanW52

    This is a purely political decision, and I strongly agree with it. This next election could be difficult for Obama to win, and the last thing he can do now is hand over a ‘gift’ to the Republicans.

    If a Republican president gets elected next year, look to see women’s reproductive rights get decimated altogether, let alone Plan B. And, if a Republican president gets to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, women’s reproductive rights will be close to zero for the next generation of Americans. With that in mind, whatever temporary measures that need to be taken for Obama to win, I want him to take those measures.

    Preventing Plan B from being an OTC medication, for the next year or so, is a small price to pay to ensure that all women have all the legal reproductive rights they need.

  • this is NOT lucy

    “For you, it’s all about retaining power over women. For women, it’s all about trying to exert some control over their own lives.

    Posted by suestuben | December 13, 2011 5:33 PM ”

    You have made the best point today in my opinion. Men, keep them women uneducated and helpless so you have a mother-wife to take care of you until the day you day.

    I don’t think so.

  • this is NOT lucy

    that should have said in the final sentence

    “until the day youi die…”