I don’t understand the rationale behind Secretary Sebelius’s decision regarding Plan B. She has overruled the FDA, which wanted to permit the over-the-counter sale of the drug to girls of any age.
Opponents of Plan B, which can be an abortifacient if fertilization has taken place, objected to the company’s bid for several reasons. They oppose abortion, even at the very early stages of life. They feared that easy availability of the “morning-after pill” without a doctor’s prescription would undermine parental authority. They worried that the pill would be a potential weapon weilded by older men against young girls. They feared that the pill’s ready availability would encourage promiscuity. And they were concerned that misuse of the drug could harm girls’ health.
But with the exception of the last issue, none of those concerns seem to rank very high with Secretary Sebelius or this administration. The secretary’s explanation made a vague reference to “label comprehension studies” and Sebelius’s skepticism that very young girls could understand what they were taking. If that’s the reasoning, then Sebelius ought to be open to the conservative critique about condom distribution programs in schools and widespread encouragement of contraception for the young. There is, indeed, lots of evidence that young people are poor decision makers about these matters. There’s also good research to show that a shockingly high percentage of girls are losing their virginity (sometimes unwillingly) to much older boys and men.
Perhaps Secretary Sebelius will now be open to learning more.