Should 15-year-olds have unfettered access to a "morning-after" pill? Will it encourage them to have unprotected sex? Or is it a nod to public health, science, and fairness?
On Tuesday, the FDA announced that it would allow Plan B One-Step, a brand of emergency contraception, to be sold over the counter to customers 15 and older, provided they show proof of age. This was the latest move in a long and winding debate. In 2011, the federal agency wanted to make the morning after pill available to all. The Obama administration stepped in and overruled. Last month, a federal court overruled the administration.
But if this latest FDA move is a compromise, it doesn't satisfy everyone. Advocates say Plan B is safe and IDs are an unfair burden. Opponents -- and some squeamish moms and dads, including President Obama -- say parents should know if their young daughters are taking powerful drugs. Where do you stand? Read some opinions below, then add your thoughts to the comments or tweet at the hashtag #PlanB.
What message are we sending to girls?
There's no follow up, thereís no caring adult engaged in that girl's life. The pharmacist, the doctor and the parent are all eliminated from that scenario. And if the girlís 15 and sheí s taking the morning after pill, she needs somebody to give her the right education: How to value yourself, how to say no to that boy, how to read your own cycle...how to use contraception that prevents STDs. This encourages sex without condoms. Where does that bring you?
Director of public policy, Mass Family Institute
What if girls have no adults to count on?
The reality is, we have young people who are not in families where that kind of connection exists between them and parents, or who donít have an adult in their lives who is capable of providing that in some way. I donít think itís fair to to say, because the adults in your life have failed you, youíre going to have to risk pregnancy -- and risk having to go forward with a pregnancy -- because itís too late or too long...That just seems like a really unfair bargain.
Patricia Quinn, executive director
Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy
Trust teens to use it correctly
Science backs lifting the age restriction on over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. Multiple studies have shown that teens are as likely as adults to use it correctly and that both groups report little if any difficulty. Research also shows teens understand that emergency contraception is not intended for ongoing, regular use and the rates of unprotected sex do not increase when they have easier access to emergency birth control.
Marty Walz, president
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
Experimenting on our daughters?
Statistics show that a large number of sexually active minor girls have partners who are legal adults, many in their twenties. This is statutory rape. Giving the girl "emergency contraception" helps cover up statutory rape, allowing these older men to continue to exploit young girls. Also, how dangerous are heavy doses of hormones for girls who are not full-grown? Similar hormones in "hormone replacement" pills, which their grandmothers took for years in much smaller doses, are now considered unsafe. How many years will it take for us to recognize the side effects of experimenting on our daughters?
Anne Fox, President
Massachusetts Citizens for Life
Treating girls differently from boys?
If you don't need ID to buy a condom, you shouldn't need it for Plan B either #planB— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) May 1, 2013
A potential compromise?
A more reasonable approach would be to label the drug safe for use without a prescription but for states to pass laws requiring it be kept behind the pharmacistís counter. That alone would convey to teenage girls that itís a serious step to be taken only in an emergency, and ensure that a pharmacist is available to answer any questions.
Boston Globe editorial
January 16, 2012
Too young to do what?
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Boston.comment is an exchange for ideas about Boston and beyond, brought to you by the Boston Globe editorial page and edited by Globe columnist Joanna Weiss. We're the sponsor of Boston.com's #LabDebates and the creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure mayoral game.
A note on comments: Be honest, be open, be polite. And be warned: Personal attacks will be removed.