Obama Defends Outrageous Plan B Age Restrictions

News & Politics

Plan B is safe for menstruating girls at any age to use. In fact, it's safer than Aspirin. So when the Obama administration announced this week that it would fight a U.S. federal judge's ruling that emergency contraception be available over-the-counter to girls at any age, it did so with little regard for science or health.  Likewise, when Obama said at a press conference on Thursday that  he is "very comfortable" with the FDA's decision to reduce the Plan B age restriction from age 17 to age 15, which he described as "based on solid scientific evidence,"he was not talking about science. Rather, he was expressing an abstinence-only preacher's rhetoric that young teenagers are too young to decide for themselves to use morning-after pill. The "danger " in emergency contraception is not the drug itself, but the radical idea that young girls be allowed to have control over their own bodies. 

Obviously, girls younger than age 15 who want emergency contraception are already having sex. They may also be less experienced than older sexually active women, and therefore less familiar with contraceptives. Access to Plan B would give them better -- or perhaps better said, "equal" -- control over their reproductive health. Should a condom break, or a mistake be made, they have back-up. A plan B. 

It should go without saying, in fact, that young women need Plan B the most. Keeping it from them is not science-based policy, but a cruel method to ensure their sex is not consequence-free. Banning Plan B from teenagers does not keep them healthy, but strips them of a crucial birth control method that could reduce teen pregnancy, as well as abortion. The Obama administration, however, would rather they suffer. Young girls shouldn't be having sex, their rhetoric goes, and so they shouldn't be allowed to make decisions about contraceptives without speaking to their parents or a doctor who will tell them to close their legs already. If you want young sex in America, you better swallow it with a dose of shame. 

Unfortunately for women's rights advocates everywhere, the Plan B "debate" comes just a week after Obama adressed Planned Parenthood at the group's natoinal conference in Washington.  That day, he defended the crucial women's health providers, assuring them that "Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere," and vowing to fight against attacks from "those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the '50s than the 21st century." This week, we learned, Obama is one of those guys. Framing politics as science, at the consequence of women's health, is a policy we (Obama included) should have left in the '50s. From this point forward, Obama should remember that every teenage girl who becomes pregnant at a younger than age 15 did so on his watch, and with one less tool to protect her body from pregnancy. May the looks on the faces of every girl who asks for Plan B, but is denied without proof of age (yet another obstacle for women who are legally old enough), forever burn in his memory. 

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