Back on December 7, The Department of Health and Human Services vetoed the FDA’s decision to allow the Plan B oral emergency contraceptive to be available to all women, without a prescription. From the reports I have seen the decision was a made because the FDA did not “’conclusively establish’ that Plan B could be used safely by the youngest girls.” In case you’re wondering, they’re specifically referring to 11.1 year-olds, which is the youngest age a girl is known to be capable of child bearing.
On one hand I think that the decision by DHHS was smart, you always want to make sure you have the best information when dealing with people’s health. But, I also think it’s idiotic to force thosefor whom the drug is safe, up to age 16, to get prescriptions.
Because the reason is semi-valid, I’m not going to puff up and get all angry. But it does make me wonder, when are we going to stop using children as a shortcut to blocking the freedoms of adults?
Personally, I think we use the “think of the children” argument far too much. It’s a big deal in the bigotry, ehem, debate about gay marriage, abortion, marijuana, alcohol, sexual education, video games, and even piracy. It’s used as a blanket statement to draw upon people’s desire to make the world safe for children, even when the topic at hand has no effect on them at all.
Currently, I have to mix my Red Bull and Absolute vodka because some dumb high school kids died drinking nine 24-oz cans of Four Loko, and that effects me. Sure their deaths are terrible, but the Four Loko didn’t kill them, they killed themselves with over consumption of Four Loko.
When it was in the courts, I asked “why is my alcoholic convenience being squandered because you didn’t teach your children how to responsibly consume alcohol?” I still find myself wondering it from time to time. With this current situation, I’m wondering why should women and girls who can responsibly and safely take Plan B be forced to get a doctor’s prescription when it could be available over the counter? The answer: they shouldn’t.
In this situation, the proper response should have been an amendment, to the FDA’s recommendation, that would lower the age of OTC Plan B access to 12 years old or whatever the lowest age it has been shown to work safely. But what happened was a knee jerk reversal of a beneficial and socially progressive change in policy, which is why I don’t believe that the reason given was really the reason for the action. My theory is that the 11.1 year-old age limit scared the shit out of someone at DHHS, most likely DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
See, Mrs. Sebelius is a 63 year old registered democrat, a member of the Roman Catholic Church and has a rather contradictory voting record. From all that, I get the idea that Sebelius is a woman conflicted. It’s like she’s caught between her liberal ideals and her conservative religious ideals, which probaly leads her to follow her emotions or impulses to make final decisions.
In this case she may have seen the 11.1 year-old age and freaked out, which is understandable. A large majority of people are hesitant to acknowledge that children that young have a conscious sexuality, let alone have sex. Being confronted with the reality of is jarring and usually makes be people shut down immediately. In this case it caused our wonderful DHHS Secretary to shut down the FDA. But, just because a behavior is understandable doesn’t mean that it is acceptable.
I am still very concerned by the lack of objectivity and sense of greater good when it comes to sexual topics in legislation. There is no reason why the logical compromise should not have been the first choice. But, because of personal biases and shortsightedness, we’re stuck with policy that doesn’t fit the most current and accurate medical information available, which is just sad.
I’m sure things will work themselves out, but, frankly, we should have never gotten here in the first place.