Plan B: Why I'm Furious at Obama and Kathleen Sebelius

BlogHer Original Post

Not to be over-dramatic, but this morning I’m in a state of shock. No, it’s not the improbable rise of serial cheater and pompous flip-flopper Newt Gingrich to GOP presidential favorite.

It’s the decision by Kathleen Sebelius to overrule the FDA on allowing Plan B to be sold over the counter to adolescent girls.. Under the utterly preposterous notion that 11-year -old girls, ten percent of whom are capable of having children, would rush to the nearest Walgreen’s to get the drug. And that the perfectly safe pill hasn’t been studied enough.

Yes, she really did say that.

Tell that to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all of whom think Plan B is safe for teen girls and should be available.

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I am writing this as the mother of a daughter. Who would happily allow her to obtain Plan B without my consent. Who would not want her to suffer a pregnancy at 16 or 15 just because she made a mistake.

And, yes, I did write “suffer.” And I did write “mistake.”

So let’s be clear. The real reason girls under 18 will not be allowed to buy Plan B without a prescription has nothing to do with health. If we were that concerned about the health of teenage girls, we wouldn’t have so many unwanted pregnancies in this country. (We also wouldn’t have pathetic reality TV shows about pregnant girls, but that’s another story.) Instead of pretending that teens don’t have sex and pouring millions into ineffective abstinence programs, we’d be pouring millions into teaching them about sexuality, how their bodies work, and birth control methods and emergency contraception like Plan B. We would treat it as the health issue that it is. As Tabby Biddle’s recent post here on BlogHer noted, pregnancy is the leading cause of death in adolescent girls.

If we’re talking about safety, there are also plenty of drugs that haven’t been tested in young teens. As Dr. Susan Wood, a former FDA assistant commissioner who resigned in 2005 over President Bush’s objection to Plan B, told the New York Times:

Acetaminophen can be fatal but it’s available to everyone,” Dr. Wood noted. “So why are contraceptives singled out every single time when they’re actually far safer than what’s already out there?”

So let’s drop the pretense of caring, of being guided by science, right now.

The real reason Sebelius overruled the FDA—by the way, an unprecedented move by a health secretary, making the decision even more appalling—is politics. The real reason is because it’s an election year and Obama didn’t want to alienate parents who might decide not to vote for him. Or those fickle independents he so badly needs.

I guess I’m a little mad this morning.

I wonder what Michelle thinks? I wonder if Michelle thinks Plan B should be available to young teen girls? I wonder if Malia was the young teen needing Plan B, what Michelle would say to her?

Or her dad.

Tough luck, kid.

I guess I’m a little mad this morning.

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Credit Image: © Pete Marovich/ZUMAPRESS.com

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