12 year old girls are a lot of things, but keenly aware of their own bodies, biological functions and the side effects of medications are typically not among their strong suits. Imagine a 12 year old girl who isn’t even sure how she might get pregnant, let alone if she is. Imagine a 12 year old who’s been coerced into having sex or has even been raped. Imagine she may or may not be pregnant, but has contracted an STD and doesn’t know it. Imagine she’s so afraid of being pregnant that she takes the ‘morning-after’ medication 2 or 3 times, “just to be sure.” Imagine the harm being done to her young body and mind, with no counsel from a parent and a medical professional. In fact, the parents have no rights here, despite the fact that there are only five states in the U.S. that do not have laws regarding piercings and/or tattoos for minors. The Obama administration has decided that a child facing an unplanned pregnancy needs less parental supervision than one who wants to get a nose ring.
The Obama administration has now cleared the way for the sale of Plan B and other so-called “morning-after” medication with no age restrictions. According to Fox News,
[T]he Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with proposed labeling that would permit it to be sold ‘without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions.’
The FDA said that once it receives the application it ‘intends to approve it promptly.’
President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northrup, hailed the ruling as a victory for women, who have had to “endure intrusive, onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions to get emergency contraception” up til now. Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council disagrees.
Making Plan B available for girls under the age of 17 without a prescription flies in the face of medical information and sound judgment. I am very troubled that the court has not fully taken into account the concerns expressed by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and many public health advocates that there is not enough data on the health effects of Plan B on young girls.
The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today’s ruling removes these commonsense protections.
According to the FDA, the side effects of Plan B include nausea, heavy bleeding, headache, dizziness and possible ectopic pregnancy (which can be life-threatening.)
Imagine being 12. Imagine being scared, perhaps abused, terribly uninformed. Imagine feeling as if your only choice is a shaky shopping trip to the drug store. Is this the best we can do for our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters and goddaughters, our neighbors, our students? Of course not.