Plan B: Contraceptives for kids?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Plan B and Reproductive Values

Plan B One Step Levonorgestrel new packageHaving a ‘Plan B’ is a good strategy—what you will do if your first plan doesn’t work out. Plan B is the name of a find-my-phone app that can help me find my Android if I misplace it. Plan B is also the brand name of an emergency contraception or morning-after drug for use after unprotected intercourse.

My question today is: Do you agree with a new decision by a federal judge that will make Plan B available over the counter to anyone—even children in elementary school? Is this a good idea?

Plan B, and other brands using the same active ingredient (a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel), have been on the market for some time. What’s new is the decision last week by Edward R. Korman, a senior judge in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York. Prior to his ruling, Plan B was available to women over the counter—but girls under the age of 17 could get it only with a prescription. The ruling does away with the age restriction, and allows the morning-after pill to be sold to anyone without a prescription, like aspirin. (Read the entire decision here.)

The judge instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conform to his ruling within thirty days. It effectively overturns the order by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to set age restrictions. Obama endorsed her decision. As quoted in the judge’s memorandum, the president said, “the reason [Secretary Sebelius] made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old go into a drug store, should be able—alongside bubble gum or batteries—be able to buy a medication that, potentially, if not properly used, could end up have an adverse effect.”

The judge concluded that the “adverse effect” argument was simply “an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.” The Secretary’s decision was “political motivated” to avoid raising the ire of religious groups in an election year. It has little scientific basis, the judge opined, citing the opinions of distinguished scientists.

Opponents worry that lifting the age restriction will promote promiscuity and be a threat to public health. Supporter hail the decision as a victory for reproductive rights and the realities of the adolescent experience.

Do you think lifting age restrictions is a good idea?

Do you worry about negative consequences?

Do you see this as a victory for women’s rights?


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  1. dtz says

    I do not believe that lifting age restrictions is a good idea. I most definitely worry about the negative consequences! This is not a victory for anyone.

    As of right now, if my child needs a Tylenol or asthma medication, the school cannot randomly give it to them. But, now suddenly, they can dispense the morning-after pill! This is truly ridiculous. There are plenty of moral arguments to this but not even counting them, there is no common sense to this decision.

  2. Arachne646 says

    How can this pill be dispensed in schools, dtz, when they cannot give out Tylenol? There may be medical clinics where contraceptives are prescribed, and young people could get Emergency Contraception there, as well as the Birth Control Pill, and condoms can be purchased anywhere. Aspirin can be bought beside the batteries at the convenience store on the corner, and it is a far more dangerous medication than EC or BCP for women of any age who have reached puberty.

    Why taking a pill rather than facing the risk of an unplanned pregnancy for a young woman of 16 years old, down to any age beyond puberty, is so frightening, is far beyond me. The fact that so many teens become pregnant every year in the USA, far beyond any other developed country, is what is truly scary.

    Churches, schools, and families must do our best to see that this does not occur, and that boys and girls have good education about safe sex, which has proven to delay the onset of sexual experience, and, if it occurs, prevent pregnancies and STD’s.

    This pill prevents ovulation, and does not cause loss of a pregnancy or, according to the latest and best research, failure of implantation. It must be taken the day after intercourse to be effective, according to the package directions.

  3. 2917 says

    No I do not believe lifting the age restrictions is a good at all. To me it is very frightening that our judges, lawmakers, are so callous to these young girls.

    Indeed, I do worry about negative consequences. My concern is why there would be a true need for Plan B One Step if 1. the family was strong; 2. fathers were men involved in their daughters lives 3. and there were strong morals. To be honest, if there were strong families, girls would dress more modest.

    I do not view this a a victory to women’s rights, these young girls are going way too young to understand the ramifications by being sexually active at such a young age. All this does is objectify girls at a very young age. Today, most young women are objectified…used…abused and they don’t understand because there is no real guidance.

    WAKE UP!!

  4. Brian Dixon says

    Nothing in the court’s decision said anything about handing this out in school. It simply says that it must be made available over-the-counter in drug stores.
    It is the decision that the medical experts at FDA came to before being overruled by Secretary Sebelius. And it’s the right decision because all the scientific evidence makes clear that the drug is safe and effective. The age restrictions have caused enormous barriers to this important contraceptive for everyone — not just young women. Because it’s available only with a prescription to girls 16 and under, it is kept behind the counter and everyone must show identification to get it. Many pharmacists thought it was illegal to sell it to husbands or boyfriends (it’s not). Many thought somebody needed to be 18 or older to purchase without a prescription. It was a misguided and unnecessary restriction in the first place and it is good that it was overturned.

  5. Davefossil says

    I absolutely agree that Plan B should be available & encouraged. The expense of an unwanted pregnancy, plus the stress and trauma for a young person and then we are taxed with welfare for the rest of the child’s life or they struggle with being adopted even by loving families. The expense and stress of an abortion IF they are someplace that allows this is distressing for everyone. The facts are second pregnancies happen in 1 out of 5 teen pregnancies and we can beat the drum of morality till we are blue in the face and we have had NO impact to speak of. The kids are having sex and earlier then ever. We need to face reality, let’s give everyone, Society included, an early “out” saving money and resources, giving the kids a chance to get educated and employable so they are less likely to stay in poverty. The church has no business in the bedroom!

  6. Rudra Rebbapragada says

    What are reproductive rights? It appears that human beings are making rules before coming to proper understanding about the facts of the nature of human existence. There is no Plan-B as far as human existence is concerned. In good health, in ill-health, with pregnancy, and without pregnancy, at any given age, under any given circumstance(such as country, religion, social, economic, educational, occupational, and marital status), the human being exists if and only if there is the operation of influence of an external source of Mercy, Grace, and Compassion. It is not about Ethics and Morals. Man has no choice other than that of Plan-A.