‘Plan B’ pill: Obama plays it safe

The Obama administration canceled plans to make the “morning after” pill freely available to teens.

President Obama is playing politics with women’s health, said the Philadelphia Daily News in an editorial. The Obama administration tried to head off a bruising fight with social conservatives last week by canceling plans to make the emergency contraceptive Plan B freely available to teens. The Food and Drug Administration had ruled that the “morning after” pill was safe to be sold over the counter to all females of reproductive age. But, to the dismay of women’s groups, Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled their scientific advisers, on the grounds that it’s unsafe to let younger girls have access to the hormonal drug. So let’s get this straight: Teenage girls aren’t mature enough to take an emergency contraceptive—but they are mature enough to have an abortion or a baby instead? Everyone knows the reason behind this betrayal, said Irin Carmon in Salon.com. The White House feared a 2012 attack ad aimed at parents that would say: “Why does Obama want your innocent little girl to have sex without you knowing?”

It would have been a legitimate question, said Jeneba Ghatt in WashingtonTimes.com. If young teens knew that “there is always Plan B” to erase their sexual mistakes, it would have only encouraged unsafe, promiscuous behavior. The administration’s decision means that parents must consent to any use of Plan B. Making the pill available over the counter would also encourage young girls to “skip regular visits to a physician,” said obstetrician Donna Harrison in NPR​.org. That’s especially dangerous, since sexually active teens are at high risk of contracting STDs. Obama deserves praise, not criticism, for looking out for “the health of our teen daughters.”

In his inaugural address, Obama vowed to “return science to its rightful place” in the country’s decision-making, said Michael Specter in NewYorker.com. It was a widely welcomed promise, after eight years of the Bush administration’s relentless opposition to sex education, programs that distributed condoms here or abroad, and any AIDS- or pregnancy-prevention program that didn’t rely on abstinence. But now Obama has proved himself no better than Republicans who “rewrite facts and suppress findings” to suit their political agenda. If he’s willing to ignore the advice of scientific experts on Plan B, he could easily do the same on global warming, the environment, and other politically costly issues. “Once we start rejecting facts for fiction, does it really matter which facts and which fiction?”

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