The FDA is working with Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B, the "morning-after pill", to allow the drug to be sold to adults without a prescription. Cynics say this is a ploy to help the confirmation of newly appointed FDA Commissioner von Eschenbach, but I think the Senate can avoid a trap there by refusing to vote on the confirmation until the issue is irrevocably resolved (no frat-boy handshakes on this one).
But why should this even be a question? Those who are against it have two main arguments, both specious. One is that making Plan B more readily available will encourage more underage girls to have sex, knowing that they have a "remedy". The other is that because it's taken after intercourse, it's not a contraceptive, but an abortive agent.
To take the second item first, there are at least three reasons this argument is wrong:
- The science behind it does not support the claim that the drug causes an abortion by preventing the implantation of an already fertilized embryo. It works by suppressing ovulation.
- Even if it did prevent implantation, that is a view of "abortion" supported by only the smallest group, and that shouldn't control national policy.
- By preventing unwanted pregnancies, Plan B can significantly reduce the number of real abortions, and isn't that what we're all looking for?
The first argument, though, is more frightening, in that it either denies that kids do have sex or decides that they "deserve" whatever consequences there are when they do. That teens have sex is itself a reason to provide a mechanism to lessen the consequences. That we want to dissuade them from doing it is something that needs to be addressed by what we teach them, by our relationships with our kids, by the values they take from us... not by making damn sure they'll regret what they did.
This is related to another frightening thing, the claim that providing a vaccine against a sexually-transmitted virus that can result in cervical cancer is a bad thing, because it, too, will "encourage" girls to have sex. I find this staggering, that any father would suggest that his daughter deserves cervical cancer as her punishment for having sex.
There's just no sensible reason not to provide alternatives to unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases! Teach your children responsibility and moral values. At the same time, protect them when it turns out that they aren't perfect.